Skip to main content


See other formats


Rome and Persia 
in Late Antiquity 


www.cambrldge*gft780521 &i92 SS 

This page intentionally left blank 


The foundation of the Sasanian Empire in ad 224 established a 
formidable new power on the Roman Empire's Eastern frontier, and 
relations over the next four centuries proved turbulent. This book 
provides a chronological narrative of their relationship, supported by 
a substantial collection of translated sources illustrating important 
themes and structural patterns. The political goals of the two sides, 
their military confrontations and their diplomatic solutions are dis- 
cussed, as well as the common interests between the two powers. 
Special attention is given to the situation of Arabia and Armenia, to 
economic aspects, the protection of the frontiers, the religious life 
in both empires and the channels of communication between East 
and West. In its wide chronological scope, the study explores the role 
played by the Sasanians in the history of the ancient Near East. The 
book will prove invaluable for students and non-specialists interested 
in late antiquity and early Byzantium, and it will be equally useful for 
specialists on these subjects. 

beate dignas is Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at Somerville 
College, Oxford. Her recent publications include Economy of the Sacred 
in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor (2002) and she has edited a 
forthcoming book Practitioners of the Divine: Greek Priests and Religious 
Officials from Homer to Heliodorus. 

engelbert winter is Professor of Ancient History at the Uni- 
versity of Miinster. He has participated in numerous field surveys 
and excavations in Turkey and published many books and articles on 
Roman-Persian relations and the history and culture of Asia Minor. 


Neighbours and Rivals 




Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, Sao Paulo 

Cambridge University Press 

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK 

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York 

Information on this title: 

© Cambridge University Press 2007 

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision of 
relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place 
without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. 

First published in print format 2007 

ISBN-13 978-0-511-34248-6 eBook (NetLibrary) 
ISBN-10 0-51 1-34248-9 eBook (NetLibrary) 

ISBN-13 978-0-521-84925-8 hardback 
ISBN-10 0-521-84925-X hardback 

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of urls 
for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not 
guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. 


List of figures page viii 

List of maps ix 

Preface xi 

Abbreviations xiii 

Introduction: West and East, friend and foe, counterpart and 

mirror image ... i 


i Rome and Iran to the beginning of the third century ad 

2 Rome and the Sasanian Empire: A chronological survey 18 

2.1 The third century: The origins of Sasanian interests in the West 18 

2.2 The fourth century: The conflict escalates under Sapur II (309-379) 32 

2.3 The fifth century: Detente at the Roman Eastern frontier 34 

2.4 The sixth century: The Sasanians renew their expansionist policy in 

the West 37 

2.5 The seventh century: Might and decline of Sasanian power 44 


1 Political goals 53 

1 Territorial claims of the Sasanians against Rome 53 

2 Succession to Achaemenid rule as programmatic foreign policy 56 

2 Warfare 63 

3 Sasanian armament and tactics 63 

3 Military confrontations 70 

3.1 The third century: Origins of Sasanian interests in the West 71 

4 Earliest Roman— Sasanian confrontations (230—233) 71 

vi Contents 

5 Sapur I (240-272) at war with Rome 77 

6 Galerius defeats Narse in the year 298 84 

3.2 The fourth century: The conflict escalates under Sapur II (309-379) 

7 Fighting during the reign of Constantius II (337-361) 

8 Julian's Persian War (363) 90 

3.3 The fifth century: Detente at the Roman Eastern frontier 94 

9 Arcadius (383-408) and Yazdgard I (399-420) 94 

10 Persian confrontations with the Hephthalites 97 

11 The Sasanian monarchy loses and regains power 98 

3.4 The sixth century: The Sasanians renew their expansionist policy in 

the West 100 

12 The first Sasanian— Byzantine War (502—532) 100 

13 The second Sasanian-Byzantine War (540-562) 106 

14 The third Sasanian-Byzantine War (572—591) and the Persian 

expansion into South Arabia 109 

3.5 The seventh century: Might and decline of Sasanian power 115 

15 The advance of Xusro II Parvez (602-628) 115 

4 The diplomatic solutions 119 

16 The peace treaty of 244 between Philip the Arab and Sapur I 

17 The peace treaty of 298 between Diocletian and Narse 122 

18 The peace treaty of 363 between Jovian and Sapur II 131 

19 The peace treaty of 422 between Theodosius II and Bahram V Gor 135 

20 The peace treaty of 562 between Justinian and Xusro I Anosarvan 138 

21 The peace treaty of 628 between Heraclius and Kavadh II Seroe 148 

5 Arabia between the great powers 152 

22 Hatra 152 

23 Palmyra 155 

24 The Arab prince Imru'ulqais between Romans and Sasanians 163 

25 'Proxy policy': Lahmids and Gassanids 169 

6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 173 

26 Armenia 173 

27 Protection of the frontier 188 

28 Economy and trade 195 

7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 210 

29 Religion and kingship in the Sasanian Empire 210 

30 The Sasanian kings as patrons of Zoroastrianism 213 

31 From Diocletian to Constantine: Religious change in the West and 

the consequences for Roman-Sasanian relations 216 

32 The situation of the Persian Christians during the reign of Yazdgard I 
(399-420) 221 

33 Religion and politics during the sixth and seventh centuries 225 

Contents vii 

8 Emperor and King of kings 232 

34 Concepts of 'legitimate rule' and the 'family of kings' 232 

9 Exchange of information between West and East 242 

35 Diplomacy and espionage 245 

36 Deportations: Enforced resettlements of prisoners 254 

37 Mutual cultural interest 263 

Appendix 1 Lists of Sasanian kings and Roman emperors 266 

Chronological table 268 

: 3 Glossary 273 

Bibliography 282 

Index of sources 326 

Index of translated sources 332 

Index of names 335 

Index of place names 339 

General index 343 


i The Achaemenid rock tombs at Naqs-i Rustam and the 
Kaba-i Zardust 

2 The three languages of the Sapur Inscription (SKZ) 59 

3 Equestrian statue of Xusro II at Taq-i Bustan 67 

4 Sketch of the relief from Taq-i Bustan 69 

5 Coin of Severus Alexander, reverse, 233 76 

6 Triumphal relief of Sapur I at Blsapur 78 

7 Paris Cameo 81 

8 Illustration of the Sahnama representing the victory of 
Sapur I against Valerian - Miniatures of the Berlin 
manuscript, 1605 83 

9 The capture of Valerian. Hans Holbein, Basle, 1521 85 

10 Medallion of Galerius, 298 87 

11 The Arch of Galerius in Thessaloniki. Detail from the 
North-East 88 

12 Rock relief of ArdasTr II in Taq-i Bustan 93 
13—14 Dara. City wall and watch-tower 102 

15 Textile fragment from Antinoe in Egypt 114 

16 Coin of Philip the Arab, 244 121 

17 Rock-relief at Naqs-i Rustam representing the investiture 

of Ardasir I 235 

18 The great hall of the palace in Blsapur 257 


i Asia Minor and the Roman Eastern provinces page 10 

2 Sasanian Iran 20 

3 Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions 30 

4 The Roman-Sasanian Frontier in late antiquity 61 

5 Sasanian sites 68 

6 The Roman Near East and the Western regions of the 

Sasanian Empire 72 

7 The sphere of contact in the Near East between Iran and the 

Arabs in preTslamic and early Islamic times in 

8 The 'Trans-Tigritania' 127 

9 Palmyra and the Roman East in the second century 157 

10 Lahmids and Gassanids along the Roman— Sasanian frontier 166 

11 Armenia at the time of the Parthian Empire 175 

12 The Caucasus 189 

13 The Silk Road from China to the Roman Orient 198 

14 The Byzantine-Sasanian borderlands 243 



In 2001 our Rom und das Perserreich. Zwei Weltmachte zwischen Konfronta- 
tion und Koexistenz was published by the Akademie Verlag, Berlin. Natu- 
rally, comments made by friends and colleagues as well as academic reviews 
encouraged us to think further about the issues of our book and also 
about its place among textbooks and scholarly works. We are hoping that 
Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity: Neighbours and Rivals, a revised and 
expanded translation, is an adequate response to the many suggestions we 
have received since 2001, among these the observation that our book did 
not have a counterpart in the English language that would correspond to 
its scope and format. 

Even more than the German volume, the present study of Roman— 
Sasanian relations has been guided by our attempt to focus on the interests 
and independent policies of the eastern power. In reaction to the conven- 
tional and still prevalent eurocentric perspective of many scholarly works 
we emphasise the Eastern textual and visual testimonies. We have done so 
with the help of Ph. Huyse (Paris), who translated crucial passages from the 
trilingual Sapur Inscription (the Parthian text) as well as the inscriptions 
of the Zoroastrian priest Karter (Middle Persian) into English for us. Petra 
Sijpesteijn (Oxford) helped us with the translation of excerpts from Arabic 
texts and David Taylor (Oxford) with the Syriac texts. Thank you! 

We have expanded our study by including a new chapter on the role of 
Armenia (2.6). Here, we are grateful to Tim Greenwood (St Andrew's), who 
not only translated the Armenian passages but also gave patient advice on 
the interpretation of the material. Moreover, the new book has chapters on 
Sasanian warfare (II. 2) and on the relationship between rulers (II. 8). We 
have also paid more attention to aspects of diplomacy and religion during 
the late phase of Roman— Sasanian relations. 

It has been a pleasure to work with Cambridge University Press. We 
would like to thank Michael Sharp for accepting the book for publication, 

xii Preface 

and Sarah Parker and Elizabeth Davey for their support and guidance 
during all stages of the production. Last but not least, Linda Woodward's 
copy-editing has been thorough, extremely helpful and efficient. 

Oxford! Munster be ate dignas 




AAG. Ph.-h. Kl. 























Archdologischer Anzeiger 

Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu 

Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 
les annales archeologiques arabs syriennes 
Anzeiger der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wis- 
senscbafien in Wien. Philologisch-historische Klasse 
Achaemenid History 
Acta Iranica 

The Ancient History Bulletin 
American Journal of Archaeology 
American Journal of Philology 
Archdologische Mitteilungen aus Iran 
Analecta Bollandiana 
Ancient Society 

Aufstieg und Niedergang der Rbmischen Welt 
Antiquite Tardive 
Archiv Orientalni 
Antike Welt 

Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 
Bastan Chenasi va Honar-e Iran. Revue d'archeologie 
d'art iraniens 

Bonner Historia Augusta Colloquium 
Bonner Jahrbiicher 
Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 
Bulletin de la Societe dArcheologie Copte 
Bulletin of the School of Oriental (from vol. ioff. and 
African) Studies 

xiv List of abbreviations 

ByzF Byzantinische Forschungen. Internationale Zeitschrift 

fur Byzantinistik 

ByzZ Byzantinische Zeitschrifi 

CAH The Cambridge Ancient History, Volumes i— xiv 

CFHB Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae 

CHI The Cambridge History of Iran, Volumes i— vm 

CHR Catholic Historical Review 

CIL Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 

CP Classical Philology 

CQ Classical Quarterly 

CSCO Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 

CSHB Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae 

DNP DerNeuePauly 

DOP Dumbarton Oaks Papers 

FA Epigraphica Anatolica. Zeitschrifi fur Epigraphik und 

historische Geographic Anatoliens 

EHR English Historical Review 

EI Encyclopaedia of Islam 

Enclr Encyclopaedia Iranica 

EOS Atti del Colloquio Internazionale AIEGL su Epigrafia e 

Ordine Senatorio: Roma, 14—20 maggio ip8i 

E&W East and West 

G&R Greece and Rome 

GRBS Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 

HAW Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaften 

HdO Handbuch der Orientalistik 

IF Indogermanische Forschungen 

IrA n t Ira nica A ntiqua 

JA Journal Asiatique 

JbAC Jahrbuch fur Antike und Christentum 

JDAI Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archdologischen Instituts 

JHS Journal of Hellenic Studies 

JNES Journal of Near Eastern Studies 

JNG Jahrbuch fur Numismatik und Geldgeschichte 

JRA Journal of Roman Archaeology 

JRAS Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 

JRS Journal of Roman Studies 

JSAI Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 

IMA Lexikon des Mittelalters 

MBAH Munstersche Beitrage zur antiken Handelsgeschichte 

List of abbreviations 

























Museum Helveticum 
Numismatic Chronicle 
Numismatische Zeitschrift 
Orientalia Christiana Periodica 
Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica 
Oriens Christianus 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire 
Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 
Quaderni catanesi di studi classici e medievali 
Reallexikon fur Antike und Christentum. Sachwor- 
terbuch zur Auseinandersetzung des Christentums mit 
der antiken Welt 

Pauly-Wissowa Realencyclopddie der classischen Alter- 
tu mswissenschafi 
Revue des Etudes Anciennes 
Revue des Etudes Byzantines 
Revue des Etudes Armeniennes 
Revue Biblique 

K. Galling, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegen- 
wart. Handworterbuch fur Theologie und Religionswis- 
senschafi. 7 vols., 1957—65. 
Rheinisches Museum fur Philologie 
H. Mattingly, The Roman Imperial Coinage. 10 vols., 

Revue internationale des droits de I'antiquite 
Rivista storica dell'antichita 

Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wis- 

Inscription ofSdpur I at the Ka'ba-i Zardust in Naqs-i 
Rust am 
Studia Lranica 

Talanta. Proceedings of the Dutch Archaeological and 
Historical Society 

Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philolog- 
ical Association 

Tiibinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients 
Travaux et memoires. Centre de recherche d'histoire et 
civilisation byzantine 

a List of abbreviations 

WJA Wurzburger Jahrbucher fur die Altertumswissenschafi 

YCS Yale Classical Studies 

ZDMG Zeitschrifi der Deutschen Morgenldndischen Gesellschafi 

ZKG Zeitschrifi fur Kirchengeschichte 

ZPE Zeitschrifi fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik 

Introduction: West and East, friend and foe, 
counterpart and mirror image . . . 

Relations between Romans and Persians in late antiquity were bound to 
be turbulent, to say the least. We are looking at those who conquered the 
possessions of the heirs of Alexander the Great versus those who claimed to 
be the heirs of the Achaemenid Empire, which was conquered by Alexan- 
der the Great. 'Heritage' and its claims often foreshadow war, in this case 
centuries of warfare that lasted throughout the existence of the relationship 
between the two powers, i.e. the third to the seventh century ad. On both 
sides war was accompanied by complex attempts to justify their respective 
goals, in both active and reactive ways. Rome's claim for world domination 
was accompanied by a sense of mission and pride in Western civilisation; 
it was met by Eastern myths and oracles prophesying the downfall of the 
Western power. 1 Our sources reflect strong Roman ambitions to become a 
guarantor of peace and order. 2 Simultaneously, they reflect long-standing 
prejudices with regard to the Eastern power's different customs, religious 
structures, languages and forms of government. As a consequence, a wide 
gap separated the two cultures and negative attitudes that stemmed from 
existing political, military and economic rivalries were constantly rein- 
forced. In the company of most ancient — and often Western — observers, 
it is tempting to associate our theme with an 'everlasting' conflict between 
West and East, between a 'civilised' Roman world and a barbarian enemy, 
and hence to describe the struggle between the two super powers as a clash 
of fundamentally alien cultures. 3 

This approach is a phenomenon that applies not only to antiquity but 
also to the present day, possibly more than ever before. The world of the 

1 See e.g. Or. Sib. 3. 350—5; on these examples of the Sibylline oracles, which originated in a Jewish 
context from the second half of the first century onwards, see Gauger 1998: 440—51; for references on 
the intellectual context of this source see ibid. 543—4; cf. also Potter 1990; Fuchs 1964. 

2 Winter 1998: 46-65. 

3 On the evolution and tradition of the term barbaros see Speyer 1992: 811—95; Hall 1989 and on 
the latter Metzler 1992/3; 215—23; on the tendency towards Eurocentrism in classical scholarship see 
Hauser 2001b: 83—104. 

2 Introduction 

'Oriental' appears alien to those of us who represent the 'Occident' and 
its tradition. However, in the face of progressing technology, new forms 
of communication and an increasing globalisation in the social, political, 
cultural and economic realms, the necessity and willingness to welcome 
the 'other' has taken on new dimensions. The attempt to understand the 
character and characteristics of a different culture has to include the ability 
to relieve tensions in a peaceful way, by way of dialogue and negotiation, 
explanation and reflection. This cannot happen unless the relations between 
West and East are based on a foundation that shows respect for the history 
of the East and does not shape this history according to Western needs. By 
adopting this wider perspective, i.e. by looking beyond a Graeco-Roman 
antiquity, we avoid an approach that makes us juxtapose supposedly relevant 
and irrelevant, central and peripheral cultures. 

These prerogatives bear on a study that focuses on the relations between 
Rome and the Sasanian Empire founded in 224. Deliberately, the follow- 
ing chapters do not only convey information regarding Roman— Sasanian 
contacts and conflicts but also examine the role the Sasanians played in 
the history of the eastern part of the ancient world. The nature of our 
source material favours an emphasis on Roman history and often leads 
us to notice historical developments in other regions only insofar as they 
bear on Roman interests. However, apart from the fact that from the third 
century onwards the history of Rome was mainly shaped by the relations 
with its Eastern neighbour it is necessary to address social and political 
developments outside the Roman sphere of influence in their own right. 
Moreover, it is not justified to limit one's focus on armed conflicts and 
to assume that an Eastern perspective on Roman— Sasanian relations did 
not exist beyond aspects of military strategy, or that it cannot be assessed. 4 
Rome and Persia interacted consistently and shared many points of interest 
with regard to trade, the protection of the frontiers, cultural and religious 
policies. These frequent and intensive contacts characterised the relations 
between the two throughout the period. On multiple levels the Sasanians 
pursued active goals in their dealings with the West, which forced the 
Romans to be extremely vigilant and evoked strategic as well as political 
reactive measures on their side. Ironically, pointing to Persian ambitions 
and ideologies of domination may also be perceived as a eurocentric per- 
spective, assigning one-sided aggression to the East. This is certainly not 
intended but it is rather the case that the Roman ideological background is 

4 See e.g. Wirth 1980/1: 306-7. 

Introduction 3 

much better known to the reader. It is the goal of this book to illuminate the 
much less-known Persian position and thereby to enable the reader to con- 
trast and compare in a more balanced way. The tradition of a 'pro-Roman' 
historical scholarship with all its ideological nuances and consequences has 
to be challenged and dismissed. 5 Aware that we are examining a period 
and topic that are not only under-studied but also loaded with sensitive 
actuality, we address both the 'unaware' as well as the 'too-aware' reader. 

The scope of this study does not allow for a general analysis of or compar- 
ison between the two powers. Excellent works for background and further 
reading have been written, of which we suggest but a few. A. H. M. Jones' 
and A. Cameron's surveys of the later Roman Empire, P. Brown's The World 
of Late Antiquity 7 and now S. Mitchell's^! History of the Later Roman Empire 
AD 284—641. The Transformation of the Ancient World 8 provide the best out- 
line of the whole period. The essays in the guide to Late Antiquity edited 
by G. Bowersock, P. Brown and O. Grabar 9 inform the interested reader 
on topics that are of much relevance for our context. The alphabetically 
listed entries in the second part of the same volume can be used as a refer- 
ence work for specific terms and themes, people, places and institutions — 
much more exhaustive and detailed than the brief glossary at the end of 
this volume. For the period between 180 and 395, D. Potter's The Roman 
Empire at Bay 10 assesses the Roman situation well, focusing both on the 
structures of government and the Persian challenge in particular. For back- 
ground reading on the history of Byzantium, the works of W. Treadgold 11 
are highly recommended. On the Sasanian side the works by Wiesehofer 
and Frye are outstanding introductions. 12 The Sasanian source material is 
well presented in Wiesehofer, Yarshater 1983b and Howard-Johnston 1995b. 
In his excellent contribution to Cameron's Byzantine and Early Islamic Near 
East 13 J. Howard-Johnston compares the structures of both empires (with 
a closer focus on the Sasanian background). 14 The proceedings of an inter- 
national colloquium on the relations between the Sasanian Empire and 
the Mediterranean World have now been published and include many 
important contributions. 15 For good discussions of the Roman East the 

5 J. Wiesehofer's work represents this new approach in an exemplary way; see now his pointed analysis 
of the 'traditional Romanocentrism 1 in Gruen 2005: 105—20. 

6 Jones 1964; Cameron 1993a. 7 1971. s 2006. 9 1999- IO 2004. 
11 1997 and 2001. Iz Above all Wiesehofer 2001; Frye 1984. I3 1995. 

14 1995b: 157—226; the chapter also provides an excellent overview of the Sasanian source material. See 
now also Howard-Johnston 2006. 

15 Wiesehofer and Huyse 2006. 

4 Introduction 

reader may also be referred to the works by Millar, Ball and Humphrey, as 
well as the relevant volumes of the CAH and the CHI. 16 

With regard to its theme, scope and focus on the source material, our book 
is closest to H. Dodgeon and S. Lieu's The Roman Eastern Frontier and 
the Persian Wars AD 226—363. A Documentary History 17 and its successor 
by G. Greatrex and S. Lieu {Part II. AD 363—630).^ As it distinguishes 
itself from these superb sourcebooks in many ways, it complements and is 
complemented by them. The present volume intends to be neither a com- 
prehensive sourcebook nor an analytical study of Sasanian Iran. We believe 
that the exemplary character of carefully selected passages and historical 
commentary make the material accessible to a wider readership and allow 
the readers to survey the relations between the two empires over a long 
period of time. Our detailed introductory and explicatory comments to 
each passage aim to assist an undergraduate and non-specialist audience, 
who, as we believe, are often not familiar with the majority of the quoted 
authors and texts, nor with the historical context. However, we are hoping 
that specialists on the subject also find the volume usable and readable from 
'cover to cover'. 

'The Fascinating Enemy' is the title of A. NiAnnerich-Asmus' editorial pref- 
ace in a recent issue of th.e.Antike Welt 19 that focuses on 'Persia and Rome'. 
The expression captures the rich texture of Roman— Sasanian relations. An 
examination of not only the textual but also the visual evidence explains how 
the fascination with and competitive nature of the 'other' created a 'likeness' 
that influenced the relationship as much as one-sided concepts of cultural 
superiority. The many illustrations in our volume serve to illuminate the 
multi-layered character of self-representation and cultural exchange. The 
triumphal reliefs on both sides, to give but one example, are very simi- 
lar in nature; although they are meant to convey a stark contrast between 
the respective victorious rulers and their enemies, they utilise the same 
techniques and share crucial symbols. As both pieces of art and means 
of political propaganda, these material sources form an essential part of 
our subject. The large number of maps are included to assist the reader 
with an immediate understanding of the events. They also remind us that 

Millar 1993 and 2006, with an emphasis on the Graeco-Roman presence in the East; Ball 2000, with 
its focus on the importance of Eastern influence reacting in part to Millar; Humphrey 1995—9; on 
the Roman East see also Alcock 1997. 
1991. lS 2002. It; Heft 1/2006: 1. 

Introduction 5 

Romans and Sasanians were neighbours and rivals whose competition for 
supremacy affected not only two peoples but all those within and between 
the two empires. In addition, maps and their shifting geographical centres 
are a means to manifest that modern scholarship is moving away from 
eurocentric views. 

The following study consists of two main parts. The first part begins with 
a brief survey of Roman— Parthian relations in order to set the stage for 
questions of continuity and change. After that, the chronological narra- 
tive sets out the development of the relationship between Rome and the 
Sasanians from the third to the seventh century. As episodes of peace and 
war characterised the relations, above all the military conflicts between the 
two empires are analysed and form the core of the narrative. The longer, 
second part presents a wide range of source material, which is placed in its 
context and illustrates patterns and structural premises. Throughout the 
book, cross-references link both parts. 'Sources and Contexts' starts with 
assessing the political goals of the two sides, which, if they amounted to 
a programmatic foreign policy, would have determined relations from the 
beginning (II 1). In order to set the stage for the discussion of the military 
confrontations (II 3), a short discussion of Sasanian warfare precedes this 
chapter (II 2). 'Diplomatic solutions' (II 4) are expressed in the numerous 
peace treaties that concluded the many wars fought between Rome and 
Persia from the third to the seventh century. However, Part II also points 
to the close diplomatic relations between West and East that existed at 
all times, and to the numerous contacts that emerged through common 
interests between the two powers. Chapter II 5 focuses on the special role of 
Arabia. After that, Armenia, an area that was of particular interest to both 
sides, trade and economy, and the protection of the frontiers are examined 
(II 6). The religious life in both empires and the role played by Christianity 
and Zoroastrianism in their political and ideological confrontation form 
another important theme (II 7). Surprisingly, the rulers of both empires did 
not perceive each other as 'alien counterparts' but formed personal relation- 
ships characterised by mutual respect and even affection. In this context 
the 'legitimacy of kingship' was closely linked with the notion of a 'family 
of kings', two concepts that are discussed in chapter II 8. Apart from wars, 
all these factors shaped and intensified relations tremendously throughout 
the course of late antiquity. The final chapter discusses the disposition and 
actual channels that facilitated an exchange of information between East 
and West (II 9), a process that was far from one-sided and included multiple 
agents and every aspect of life. 

6 Introduction 

More than once the Byzantine author and diplomat Peter the Patrician 
will be quoted in this study. In his view, 'It is obvious for all mankind 
that the Roman and the Persian Empires are just like two lamps; and it 
is necessary that, like eyes, the one is brightened by the light of the other 
and that they do not angrily strive for each other's destruction.' Wishful 
thinking, one may say, if one looks at the almost continuous sequence of 
wars fought between Rome and Persia, and at the actual downfall of both 
empires. For us, however, it may be an inspiration. 

In order to express the phonetic value of the languages involved, we are 
using a few diacritical or phonetic signs when transliterating Persian, Arabic, 
Syriac or Armenian names, titles and places. 

With regard to the Persian material, the most frequent transliterations 
are c for a pronunciation 'ch (as in chill), g for 'j' (as in jeans) and s for 'sh 
(as in shell). 'X' (which is rendered as 'ch in many other modern works) 
should be pronounced in the same way as the 'ch' in Scottish loch. S is sharp 
as in loss, whereas z has a pronunciation as in size, 'renders an explosive 
glottal sound, whereas ' implies a glottal sound that stops the flow of air. 
It is extremely difficult to spell names, titles and places in a consistent way 
as Latin, Greek or modern familiar forms of some names and places exist 
which do not correspond to the general phonetic transliterations of the 
original languages. In these cases we have used the more familiar version 
at the expense of consistency. This also applies to Greek names, places 
and terms, which, unless their Latinised (such as Ephesus or Heraclius) 
or Anglicised (Constantinople or Maurice) forms or versions are more 
familiar, are transliterated on the basis of the Greek sounds and endings. 
The translations of the sources follow the original text as close as possible 
but also try to be readable and understandable. 




Rome and Iran to the beginning of the 
third century ad 

Around the middle of the third century bc the kingdom of the Parthi- 
ans emerged in the Eastern parts of the Seleucid kingdom. Originally 
the nomadic tribe resided in the area between the Caspian and the Aral 
Seas. 1 Around 250 bc Arsaces I, who was to become the first Parthian king 
(247—217 bc) and who became the first representative of the 'dynasty of 
the Arsacids', led the Parnians, as they were called, into the province of 
Parthava, which was situated east of the Caspian Sea and was part of Seleu- 
cid Iran. 2 Although at first this campaign amounted to no more than one 
of the frequent insurrections against an unstable Seleucid rule in one of the 
Eastern provinces, after a few setbacks the Arsacid kings managed to take 
firm hold of these areas. When the Parthians embarked on their Western 
expansion during the second century bc, the Seleucid kingdom, which was 
among other things confronted with the new world power of Rome in the 
West, was not able to stop them. 3 During the reign of the most significant 
Parthian king, Mithradates II (124/3-88/7 bc), the Arsacids succeeded in 
extending their rule into Armenia and Mesopotamia. 4 This was the begin- 
ning of an 'international role' for the Parthian kingdom, a phase that also 
entailed contacts with Rome. 5 Favoured by the decline of the Hellenistic 
kingdoms and driven by an immense desire for expansion during the first 
two centuries bc, the Romans extended their rule not only into Asia Minor 
but throughout the entire Eastern Mediterranean world. 6 

1 For the history, culture and sources of the Parthian Empire see Schippmann 1980; Bivar 1983b: 21—99; 
Wolski 1993; Wiesehofer 1996: 115—49, 1998a and 2001: 163—204; Frye 2000: 17-22; Wolski 2003. 

2 For the beginning of Parthian rule, the foundation of the Arsacid Empire and the chronology of events 
see Brodersen 1986: 378—81; Boyce 1994: 241-51; Olbrycht 1998: 51—76 and 2003: 69-103; Drijvers 
1998: 279-93 an d I 999 : 193-206; Lerner 1999. 

3 Wolski 1969: 188—254 an d Dobbins 1974: 63—79. 4 Arnaud 1987: 129—46. 

5 For Parthian— Roman relations in general see Ziegler 1964; Keaveney 1982: 412—28; Dabrowa 1983; 
Campbell 1993: 213—40; Millar 1996: 127-47; Kennedy 1996a: 67-90; Isaac 1992: 19—53; Butcher 2003: 

On the expansion of Roman rule in the eastern Mediterranean see Gruen 1984 and Sherwin-White 
1984; also Millar 1996: 19-53. 


To the beginning of the third century 

Map i: Asia Minor and the Roman Eastern provinces 

To the beginning of the third century 


colchis "■ y i ( ( 

in—. Maityropol.c i 

Mal.laniT^ ( M., a (,™inlff.. COBDUENA 

/ SOPH A N E N E TioianoMiS_ ^"/\^_ 

_iv I Castro . HC4F 

OSRHOENE Mauronim V-BumM' 

Ba ,n S » QEdas.a. ot „.._~'~? , MOXOENA 

i0 qEdssss, OHasaana,? 1 

icia PcarrhaaV f |( ^J 

Dura Ei ropiis 

Map i: (cont.) 

12 i To the beginning of the third century 

Since 64 bc, when Pompey had established the province of Syria, 7 Rome 
had been the immediate neighbour of the Parthian kingdom. But already 
before that official contacts existed; in 96 bc Sulla received the Parthian 
ambassador Orobazos on the western banks of the river Euphrates. As 
Roman power was increasing dramatically in the East, the Parthians sought 
peaceful relations and wanted to come to a settlement that guaranteed 
mutual respect. During the meeting, the two empires established amicitia 
between them. 8 Plutarch's account of the protocol is revealing. 9 Sulla sat 
in the centre and presided over the proceedings. He obviously claimed 
an exceptional role. Also present was the Cappadocian king Ariobarzanes, 
a man who favoured and was dependent on Rome and who — just like 
Orobazos — sat next to Sulla. It becomes clear that the Parthian ambassador 
was placed on the same level with him and the Parthian kingdom thus 
viewed as a second-rank power. It was probably for good reasons that 
Orobazos was executed after his return. 10 

Roman foreign policy in the following years confirmed Western feelings 
of superiority. Although in 69 and 66 bc afoedus was concluded with the 
Parthians, which saw the Euphrates as the Western frontier of the Parthian 
kingdom, Roman diplomatic activities reflect strategic interests rather than 
the effort to come to a settlement with an equal partner. After the foedus of 
66 bc had been concluded, Pompey's behaviour made it clear that Rome was 
not going to tolerate any rival. 11 When Roman soldiers broke the agreement 
and crossed the Euphrates, the Parthian king Phraates III warned Pompey 
to respect the river as the boundary but the latter declared that he would 
give way to military force only 12 Rome did not feel obliged to comply 
with legal norms but was convinced of its political, military and cultural 
superiority over the East. 

When Crassus launched another attack on Mesopotamia in 54 bc, the 
Parthian kingdom was well prepared. In 53 bc Rome suffered a major defeat 
at Carrhae. The Roman standards fell into Parthian hands and Crassus was 
killed. 13 The outcome of this battle is significant for subsequent Roman- 
Parthian relations because it influenced Rome's policy in the East consider- 
ably. Whereas the Romans had treated the Parthians with arrogance before, 
after the defeat they reversed their attitude and rather overestimated the 
opponent's military force; Rome sought revenge. 14 

7 On Pompey's settlement see Freeman 1994: 143—70; on Syria in general see Kennedy 1996b: 703—36. 

s Sherwin-White 1977: 173-83; Keaveney 1981: 196—212. 

9 Plut. Suit. 5.4—5. IO Karras-Klapproth 1988: 101— 2. 

11 Keaveney 1982: 412-28; Hillman 1996: 380-99. Iz Cass. Dio xxxvii. 6.1-2. 

13 Plut. Crass. 18-33; Cass. Dio XL.16— 27; Marshall 1976; Shahbazi 1992: 9—13; Tucci 1992. 

14 Timpe 1962: 104—29. 

/ To the beginning of the third century 13 

Caesar's plans for a Parthian War 15 and the intense preparations prior 
to Antony's Parthian campaign 16 confirm Rome's respect for the military 
force of the Parthian kingdom. However, the Romans were still not willing 
to acknowledge their opponent in the East as an equal power. In the late 
republican period Roman foreign policy strove to create a Rome that was, 
as Cicero puts it, 'lord over kings, victor and ruler over all nations' [domi- 
nus regum, victor atque imperator omnium gentium)} 1 The claim for world 
domination prevented the imperium Romanum and other states from coex- 
isting as equal partners bound by principles of international law. However, 
Augustus' policy in the East paved the way for a new attitude. In order to 
come to an official agreement concerning the political relations between the 
two powers, the Parthians had to return the Roman standards they had cap- 
tured at Carrhae; they agreed to do so in 20 bc when Rome demonstrated 
its military strength in the East. 18 It is not surprising that in Roman eyes 
the foedus concluded between Augustus and Phraates IV (38—3/2 bc) was a 
great success. 19 Given that public opinion in Rome was all in favour of war, 
it was even more important that the princeps decided to restore the Roman- 
Parthian amicitia and to conclude a foedus in 20 bc according to which the 
Romans respected the Euphrates as the frontier between the two powers. 20 
The treaty acknowledged the fact that Rome was, in the long term, not 
in a position to control vast territories beyond the Euphrates. Augustus 
pursued a policy 'within the existing borders of the empire' (intra terminos 
imperii) 21 although official propaganda continued to emphasise an 'empire 
without borders' [imperium sine fine)} 2 ' However, by refraining from fur- 
ther expansion in the East Rome acknowledged the military strength of 
the Parthian kingdom. Authors of the early imperial period talk about 
the Parthian kingdom and the Roman empire as maxima imperial and as 
'the two greatest rules under the sun', 24 and the Augustan historian Pom- 
peius Trogus saw the world as divided between Romans and Parthians; 25 
there is no doubt that such statements reflect emerging rules of an inter- 
national community of which the Parthian kingdom was a part. On an 

15 Malitz 1984: 21—59. 

16 Craven 1920; Bengtson 1974; Schieber 1979: 105—24; Hersh 1980: 41—5. 

17 Cic. Dom. 90. l8 Timpe 1975: 155—69. 

19 On the significance of returning the standards see Zanker 1987: 188—96; in this context see also 
Schneider 1998: 95-147. 

20 Strabo xvi.1.28; on Strabo's representation of the Parthians see Bosi 1994: 109—222; Drijvers 1998: 

21 Tac. Ann. 1.11. 22 Verg. Aen. 1.279. 23 Tac. Ann. 11.56. 

24 Ios. A] xviii. 46; on the representation of the Parthians in Josephus see Rajak 1998: 309—24. 

25 lust, xli.i.i; on this passage see also Van Wickevoort Crommelin 1998: 261; on the Parthians in 
Pompeius Trogus see Alonso-Nunez 1988—9: 125—55. 

14 i To the beginning of the third century 

ideological level, however, Rome's claim for world domination remained 
intact. 26 Many comments made by poets of the Augustan period, who rep- 
resented the opinion of the nobility in the city of Rome, reflect the view 
that no state or people could be equal to the imperium Romanum. Z7 

Augustus initiated a policy that refrained from conquests beyond the 
Euphrates and acknowledged the Parthians as a second world power equal 
to Rome. Although Nero (54-68) fought a Parthian War over Armenia, 
the Arsacid ruler Tiridates was eventually crowned by Nero as king of 
Armenia in a great Roman spectacle, 28 and we may say that Augustus' 
policy of cooperation laid the foundation for a more or less uninterrupted 
peace between the two powers throughout the first century ad. The fact 
that in ad 66 the so-called Armenian question' found a solution must 
have strengthened relations even further (2,6). 29 Local conflicts, Rome's 
fortification of the frontier along the Euphrates and in the Caucasus and a 
tightened Roman rule in the Eastern provinces did their part to see relations 
deteriorate but did not immediately lead to new armed confrontations on 
the Eastern frontier of the Roman Empire. 30 Rome, however, improved its 
military position significantly during this period. 31 

At the beginning of the second century the emperor Trajan (98—117) 
intended to conquer the Parthian kingdom and thereby turned the dream 
of Roman world domination into political reality 32 Our ancient sources do 
not reveal the precise reasons for the emperor's Parthian campaign. It looks 
as if ideas of world domination and military glory 33 were equally important 
as strategic considerations regarding a stronger Roman frontier beyond the 
Euphrates. Trajan rejected Parthian efforts to come to a peaceful settlement. 

Contemporary observers criticised the emperor's actions prior to the 
military confrontations 34 and accused him of turning his back on a Roman 
policy in the East that had prevailed since Augustus, namely a policy that 
acknowledged the sovereignty of the Parthian kingdom as a political factor 
within a community of states that abided by the same international laws. 35 

26 On the image of the Parthians in the West see Sonnabend 1986. 

27 For references see Wissemann 1982. 

zS Anderson 1934: 743-80; Ziegler 1964: 67—78; Wagner 1985: 31-42. 

29 Wolski 1983a: 269-77; f° r tne period after 34/5 see also Schottky 1991: 81—7; for the position of 
Armenia between the two great powers in general see Garsoian 1997a: 63—94 an d 1985: 95—116. 

30 For developments within the Parthian kingdom during the first century see Dabrowa 1981: 187—204; 
Schottky 1991: 61—135; ^h 1999: 114—35. 

31 For the fortification of the Roman-Parthian frontier along the Euphrates from Augustus to the 
Flavian emperors see Dabrowa 1980: 382—8; Wagner 1985: 19—57; Bosworth 1976: 63-78; Mitchell 
1993: 118—42. 

32 On Trajan's political goals see Eadie 1985: 407—23. 

33 Cf. esp. Cass. Dio Lxvm.17.1. 34 E.g. Front. 15. 35 Cf. Ziegler 1964: 102. 

/ To the beginning of the third century 15 

In spite of Trajan's great military successes, his Parthian War (114-17) 
ended with a fiasco. 36 Late in Trajan's reign revolts took place in the con- 
quered territories, and the new provinces of Armenia, Mesopotamia and 
Assyria were eventually lost. Trajan's successor Hadrian (117-38) returned to 
the Augustan policy of 'sustaining the empire within its borders' (coercendi 
intra terminos) v and restored the amicitia with the Parthian kingdom on 
the basis of the status quo that had existed before the war. 38 In its outline, 
this policy was not even changed by the successful Parthian Wars of L. Verus 
(161— 9) and Septimius Severus (193— 211), who — after Trajan's offensive — 
advanced a second and third time as far as the Parthian capital Seleucia- 
Ktesiphon. 39 Rome withdrew after these successes. Its declared goals were 
different from those of the beginning of the second century and no longer 
extended to the subjugation of the Parthian kingdom. But whereas the East- 
ern power had retained its political sovereignty, Rome's military successes 
improved its strategic position along the Eastern frontier considerably, in 
particular by moving the frontiers forward to the Chaboras-Singara line, 
which created a boundary within Mesopotamia, and finally establishing the 
province of Mesopotamia during the reign of Septimius Severus. 40 Roman 
control over upper Mesopotamia represented a permanent and immedi- 
ate threat to the Mesopotamian heartland of the Parthian kingdom. This 
was the end of a policy that firmly recognised the Euphrates as the border 
between Romans and Parthians. 

At the beginning of the third century ad Caracalla (211-17) launched yet 
another attack against the Parthians. 41 In contrast to his predecessors, he 
seems to have pursued the conquest of the Parthian kingdom. Apparently, 
his plans amounted to world domination and were guided by the idea that 
he would become a successor of Alexander the Great — he was certainly 
not prepared to acknowledge Parthian sovereignty. Caracalla's attempts to 
create a casus belli for a 'justified war' illustrate this position no less than 
his actions during the Parthian campaign when he desecrated the graves 
of local rulers in the Adiabene. 42 In contrast, ancient authors mention 
Caracalla's plans to marry the daughter of the Parthian king Artabanos IV. 

36 Lepper 1948; Eadie 1985: 407—23; Lightfoot 1990: 115—26; Wylie 1990: 37—43. 

37 See note 21 above. 

38 Birley 1956: 25-33 ana " Birley 1998; 66—76. 

39 Birley 1987: 140—7; 1988: 201—4; Rubin 1975; 419—41; Speidel 1985; 321—6; Potter 1991: 277—90; Millar 
1996: 80—99 ana in— 26. 

40 On the fortification of the Roman Eastern frontier along the Tigris and Chaboras under the Severan 
emperors see Kennedy 1987; 57—66; Wagner 1985: 63—7; 1983: 103—30; Millar 1996: 127—41. 

41 Heichelheim 1944: 113— 15. 4Z Cass. Dio lxxix.i.i— 2. 

16 i To the beginning of the third century 

The king's refusal led to war. 43 Caracalla's request was certainly unrealistic 
and the Roman emperor may have anticipated the refusal in his political cal- 
culations. Nevertheless, Herodian's account of the situation is revealing. 44 
It mentions a Roman embassy dispatched to propose the marriage to the 
Parthian king. The ambassadors claimed that if the empires of the Romans 
and the Parthians, which in their words were the greatest of the world, were 
no longer separated by a river and frontier but formed a single empire, no 
opposition would arise because the other barbarian nations would be an 
easy prey to these. Although we have to be cautious when using Herodian 
as a historical source, his ideas reflect contemporary views and throw light 
on the relations between the two single great powers at the beginning of 
the third century 45 

Caracalla's war of aggression is therefore surprising. In order to explain 
his political goals, in particular the dream of succeeding Alexander the 
Great, 4 we have to take into account the character and personality of this 
Roman emperor. After Caracalla's assassination, his successor Macrinus 
(217—18) immediately announced that his predecessor had done wrong by 
the Parthians and restored peace. In 218, after a battle fought at Nisibis 
during which both sides suffered heavy losses, a treaty was signed. According 
to Herodian, the Roman emperor Macrinus was delighted about having 
won the Iranian opponent as a reliable friend. 47 

Be that as it may, until its downfall the Parthian kingdom was and 
remained an openly acknowledged serious opponent, who required con- 
stant Roman vigilance. 48 Internal developments in Iran made it impossible 
to intensify Roman— Parthian relations and to strengthen emerging signs of 
an international law. In 224 the rise of the Sasanians, fostered, to be sure, 
by the confrontations and tensions between Parthians and Romans during 
the first two decades of the third century, led to the fall of Arsacid rule. 

Modern scholars long underestimated the Arsacid dynasty and regarded 
Parthian— Roman relations solely from the Roman perspective. Inevitably, 
scholars did not acknowledge an 'active' Western policy on the part of 
the Arsacids. Above all the many works of G. Wolski 49 have opened the 
discussion to new views, and the era of the Parthian kings within the 

43 The historicity of Caracalla's plans is controversial; see Ziegler 1964: 132—4. 

44 Herodian iv.10.2— 4. 45 Ziegler 1964: 133—40. 

46 On Caracalla's imitatio Alexandri see Cass. Dio LXXVIH.7.1-4; Herodian iv.8.1— 3. 

47 Herodian v.1.4. 

4 There has been a lively scholarly discussion regarding the goals and character of Rome's military and 
strategic policy along the Eastern frontier of the empire. Cf Luttwak 1976; MacMullen 1976; Isaac 
1989: 231-4; 1992 and Zyromski 1998. 

49 Wolski 1966: 65—89; 1976: 195—214; 1985: 163-73; 1983b: 137—49. 

/ To the beginning of the third century 17 

history of Iran as a whole has gained significance — in particular with 
regard to the study of the Achaemenids and the Sasanians. Relations with 
Rome were in fact a major structural element in the history of the Parthian 
kingdom. Wolski is right in emphasising that the 'Iranicism' of the Arsacids 
played an important role in their conflict with Rome. The recollection of 
the significant Achaemenid past 50 encouraged the Arsacids to stand up to 
the Roman Empire, an aspect that widens the scope of Arsacid policies 
tremendously 51 A prime example is the following: according to the Roman 
historian Tacitus, the Parthian king Artabanos II (10/11-38) threatened 
the Roman emperor Tiberius (14-37) by referring to the old Persian and 
Macedonian conquests and by boasting that he would gain possession of 
what Cyrus and later Alexander had ruled. 52 By comparing the first Arsacid 
ruler with the first Achaemenid ruler Cyrus (559-530 bc) the third-century 
author Justin also underlines this claim. 53 The Parthians thus continued 
Achaemenid traditions and can be counted among the 'first pioneers of 
Iranicism'. 54 

K. H. Ziegler hesitates to label Arsacid foreign policy 'programmatic' 55 
because there was no Arsacid ideology equivalent to the Roman idea of 
world domination. He argues that Parthian goals never amounted to the 
destruction of the Roman Empire and that even the claims made by Arta- 
banos II in Tacitus' account aimed at territorial gains that were modest in 
comparison with later Sasanian claims. 5 It is crucial for an assessment of 
Roman— Sasanian relations to examine whether the Sasanians took up goals 
of the Arsacid rulers and continued their Western policy or developed plans 
that went beyond any foreign policy pursued by the Parthians. Given that 
the late phase of Parthian— Roman relations was characterised by mutual 
respect and appreciation — certainly beyond a modus vivendP 7 and with 
options for a formalised relationship on the basis of an international law, 58 
one also has to ask if and to what extent the rising Sasanian Empire was 
prepared to use the opportunity and to further develop existing relations. 

s ° Metzler 1982: 130-7. 

51 On the goals of Arsacid foreign policy and on Arsacid military strength see Kennedy 1996a: 67—90. 

52 Tac. Ann. vi.37. Cf. Wiesehofer 1986b: 177—85; Ehrhardt 1998: 299 with further references. 
5i lust. XLI.5.5. 54 Wolski 1983b: 147. 55 Dabrowa 1984: 153. 

5 Ziegler 1964: 86; cf. also Zyromski 1998: 11. 
57 Wirth 1980/1: 324. 5§ Ziegler 1964: 140. 


Rome and the Sasanian Empire: 
A chronological survey 



The rise of the Sasanian dynasty, the revolt of Ardasir I (224—40) against the 
Arsacids, the fall of Parthian rule and the foundation of the Neo-Persian 
Sasanian Empire (map 2) 1 — together, these were not only a turning point 
within the history of Iran 2 but also a benchmark regarding Iran's relations 
with Rome. Although Ardaslr's hostile attitude against Rome was at first a 
mere continuation of Parthian sentiments, within a few years of his reign 
the king established, consolidated and centralised his rule 3 to the extent 
that his ambitions threatened wide areas of the eastern half of the Roman 
Empire. The West knew that Ardaslr's claims would go beyond the borders 
of the Parthian kingdom and that he would ask for more than declarations 
of loyalty from the many client kings within his empire; it was clear that he 
would claim all the territories that had once belonged to his Achaemenid 
ancestors. Rome therefore considered the Sasanian dynasty as a serious 
opponent right from the beginning of their relations (i). 4 

As soon as Ardasir had established his rule he turned towards the West. 
According to the contemporary historian Herodian, Ardasir I responded 
to a letter from the Roman emperor Severus Alexander (222—35), m which 
the emperor warned him to respect peace and reminded him of the great 
victories of Augustus, Trajan and Septimius Severus, 5 by asking Rome to 

1 For a chronology of the early Sasanian rulers and the beginnings of Sasanian history see Altheim-Stiehl 
1982: 152—9; Sundermann 1990: 295—9; Richter-Bernburg 1993: 71-80. 

2 For the history of the Sasanian Empire see Morony 1997: 70—83; Christensen 1944; Widengren 
1971: 711-82; Frye 1983a: 116—80; 1984: 287-339; Schippmann 1990: 10—79; Wiesehofer 2001: 151- 
221; see Shahbazi 1990: 588—99 for a survey of the multi-faceted relations between Iran and the 

3 With regard to the activities of the first Sasanian king see Wiesehofer 1986a; 371-6. 

4 On Achaemenid echoes' see Frye 1983c: 247—52 and Roaf 1998: 1-7. 
* Herodian vi.2.4— 5. 


2.i The third century 19 

withdraw altogether from Syria and Asia Minor. 6 Between 230 and 232 
Ardaslr invaded Roman territory but was stopped in 233 by a counter-attack 
of Severus Alexander, who had successfully reorganised Rome's desolate 
Eastern frontier units. The Sasanians withdrew from the areas they had 
conquered and the status quo ante bellum was restored. Although this first 
military confrontation was not a victory for either Persians or Romans, 
the fact that a Persian advance had been prevented was viewed as a major 
triumph in the West (4). 

Soon the Sasanians invaded again. When in 235 the assassination of 
Severus Alexander caused political unrest in the Roman Empire, Ardaslr I 
once more turned to the West. In 235 and 236 he apparently gained control 
of a number of fortresses in Roman Mesopotamia, among these the impor- 
tant cities of Nisibis and Carrhae. 7 Ardaslr not only attempted to conquer 
Roman frontier areas, but he also advanced into southern Mesopotamia, the 
western coastal regions of the Persian Gulf and eastern Arabia. 8 Above all he 
must have been interested in trade with India and therefore tried to control 
seafaring in the Persian Gulf. It looks as if Ardaslr actually gained control 
over the northern part of the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. His 
activities along the Persian Gulf, which primarily illustrate economic and 
strategic motives, affected Roman economic interests. Immediately after 
the fall of the Arsacid dynasty Ardaslr had occupied Spasinu Charax on 
the Satt al-Arab and thereby threatened the trading metropolis and Roman 
colony of Palmyra, which was located in the Syrian Desert, and engaged 
in trade with Indian luxury goods along the Persian Gulf; in consequence 
also Roman interests in trade in the region were threatened. This situation 
could not but affect relations between the two powers (13). 

Moreover, both powers contended for the well-fortified caravan city of 
Hatra, which had turned into one of the most important Arabian centres 
during the course of the second century; because of its location in northern 
Mesopotamia, the city functioned as a junction for caravan routes and a 
stop on the route from Nisibis to Ktesiphon (22). Herodian describes Hatra 
as an impregnable fortress. 9 The 'city of the sun-god' with its many shrines 
was also an important destination for pilgrims and derived further wealth 
from this. 

6 Ibid. vi. z. 5— 6; vi. 4.4— 5; Potter 1990: 372—5 suggests that Ardasir's goals were more modest, namely to 
establish or secure control over the former client kingdoms such as Hatra and Armenia, which had 
fallen under Roman rule. 

7 Wiesehofer 1982: 437—47; Kettenhofen 1982: 21—2 and 1995a: 159—77. 

s Widengren 1971: 754—5; Whitehouse and Williamson 1973: 29-49; Frye 1983b; 167—70; Winter 1988: 

72—9; Potts 1990: 228—41 and 1997: 89—107. 
9 Herodian m.9.4. 


2 A ch. 



Map 2: Sasanian Iran 

When Ardaslr I had taken over Parthian territories he had also made 
an unsuccessful attempt at capturing Hatra. Losing a fortress of immense 
strategic importance for securing middle Mesopotamia to Rome threatened 
the Persian Western frontier considerably. Only towards the end of Ardasir's 
reign the Sasanians managed to capture Hatra after a two-year siege and 
probably by treason. 10 Scholars date the fall of Hatra to some time between 

Taban, tr. Noldeke 33—40; Bosworth 31—7 (827—30). 

2.i The third century 


Map 2: (cont.) 

April 12 and September 30 of the year 240. " It was a blow to Rome because 
controlling Hatra put the Persians in a much better strategic position in 
northern Mesopotamia. The already strained diplomatic relations between 
Rome and Persia took a turn for the worse when ArdasTr I died. From a 
Western perspective the conquest of Hatra was the cause of the new war 

The conquest of Hatra is closely linked to the beginning of the reign of Sapur I; see 22 with further 

22 2 A chronological survey 

that broke out during the reign of Ardaslr's son and successor Sapur I 
(240-72). I2 

In the spring of 243 the Roman emperor Gordian III (238—44) set off 
with his army from the Syrian metropolis Antioch on the Orontes, crossed 
the Euphrates and won back the cities of Carrhae and Nisibis, which had 
been occupied by the Sasanians. 13 Under the command of the Prefect of 
the Guard Timesitheus the Romans defeated the Persians at Rhesaina and 
then advanced into the Sasanian province of Asurestan. 14 They probably 
intended to get as far as the Sasanian capital Ktesiphon 15 but at the begin- 
ning of the year 244 Sapur I scored a decisive victory against the Roman 
army at Misik. Gordian III died in battle (5). His successor Philip the Arab 
(244—9) concluded a peace with Sapur and withdrew. Although Rome 
had to pay large sums of money and lost influence in Armenia the Roman 
emperor boasted about the peace (16). 

The peace of 244 lasted for only a few years. Sapur claimed that Rome 
was to be blamed for new confrontations because it had done wrong by 
Armenia. 17 When the Arsacid king of Armenia had become the victim of 
Persian intrigues his son Tiridates, who was not yet of age, went over to 
Rome (2.6). Sapur saw the regulations of the foedus of 244 violated and 
used the opportunity to take over Armenia. 18 In 252 he eliminated the 
Arsacid royal house and turned Armenia into a Sasanian province under 
the command of his son Hormizd. 19 This development brought significant 
strategic advantages for the Sasanians, and this not only with regard to the 
looming conflicts with Rome but also with regard to their military and 
economic interests in the Caucasus region. 

From 252 on Sapur was once more at war with Rome. 20 He boasted 
of a spectacular victory at Barbalissos over a Roman army of 60,000 
men. 21 Afterwards the Persians invaded the Roman province of Syria. They 
captured Hierapolis, Antioch on the Orontes and further Syrian cities and 

12 Schippmann 1990: 19. I3 On Gordian's Persian expedition see Kettenhofen 1983: 151— 71. 

14 Amm. xxiii. 5. 17. I5 SHA Gord. 27.6. 

16 On this emperor and his rule see de Blois 1978—9: 11—43 an d Korner 2002. 

17 SKZ§ 9 (p. 294 ed. Back). 

1 For the possible causes of the Sasanian expedition against Armenia and the course of events see 
Chaumont 1976: 169—76 and below (2.6) with further references. 

19 For an examination of Sapur's intervention in Armenia see Schottky 1994: 223-35, es P- 231—2; see 
again 26 below. 

20 It is difficult to establish a chronology of the various Sasanian expeditions between 253 and 256; see 
Kettenhofen 1982: 50—96; Schippmann 1990: 21—3; Potter 1990: 189—96 and 290—7; Strobel 1993: 

21 SKZ § 9 (p. 295 ed. Back). 

2.i The third century 23 

also made an advance into Cappadocia. 22 Exceptionally important was the 
destruction of the caravan city Dura-Europos in the central Mesopotamian 
steppe. 23 After the fall of Hatra, the Romans had now lost a further impor- 
tant trading base in the region. In the second half of 253, however, the 
Persians suffered a first setback when one of their columns was stopped at 
Emesa and defeated, possibly by the Palmyrene Odaenathus (died in 267). 
In the following years this man figured prominently in Persian— Roman 
confrontations. When Sapur I rejected his offer of an alliance, Odaenathus 
asked Rome instead and soon after his support became crucial for the 
Roman position in the East (13). 

At first Sapur I used the internal difficulties Rome faced during this 
period for further offensives. 24 In 260 the Persians defeated the emperor 
and his personal army. At Edessa they captured high Roman officials and 
Valerian himself 25 Within all of Sasanian history this was one of the greatest 
triumphs over their Western opponent. Over and over again Sapur I boasted 
of this triumph (5). According to his own words, the king exploited Vale- 
rian's defeat at Edessa by taking thirty-seven cities in the Roman provinces 
of Syria, Cilicia and Cappadocia. 26 Apparently he also occupied the Syrian 
metropolis Antioch on the Orontes. Among the numerous Roman pris- 
oners were many engineers, scholars and artists, who were deported and 
resettled in the modern provinces of Fars and Huzistan. Many of them 
found a new home in cities founded by Sapur I. These men contributed to 
a spread of Western 'know-how' to areas beyond the rivers Euphrates and 
Tigris and thus enhanced the infrastructure of the Sasanian Empire (36). 

Numerous Christians, and among these priests and Church officials, also 
entered Persia and established organised congregations. 27 These were not 
bothered by Sapur I because the king hoped that by tolerating Christians, 
whose fellow believers in the Roman Empire were persecuted at the time 
of the deportations, he would gain an advantage in his conflict with Rome. 
However, the quick spread of Christianity in the Sasanian Empire endan- 
gered the position of the Zoroastrian priesthood, whose claims to power 

22 The individual dates are uncertain. An advance between 253 and 255 is as likely as one in 255/6. 

23 MacDonald 1986: 45-68; Millar 1996: 445-71 and 1998b; Pollard 2004: 119—44. 

24 Strobel 1993: 243-4. 

25 On the Roman— Sasanian confrontations of the year 260 and on the capture of Valerian see 
Kettenhofen 1982: 97—126. 

26 SKZ §§ 10-17 (PP- 295—306 ed. Back); regarding the number of cities conquered by Sapur I see 
Maricq and Honigmann 1953; 144. 

27 For the religious life in the Sasanian Empire see the respective entries in CHI in. 2 1983: 819— 
1024; for the position of Christianity see Atiya 1991; Wiesehofer 2001: 199—216; see also chapter 7 

24 2 A chronological survey 

became more and more visible towards the end of Sapur Is reign, and 
in particular after his death. Although the Christian population displayed 
loyalty towards the king in many instances, as a guardian and protector 
of Zoroastrianism he was ultimately not allowed to tolerate Christian- 
ity (30). Here we see clear parallels to the developments in the Roman 
Empire where reasons of state were also responsible for persecutions of the 

Sapur Is long-standing policy of religious tolerance favoured especially 
the rise of Mani, the founder of Manichaeanism, 28 a religion that was for 
a short time a religious alternative to Zoroastrianism, but at the end of his 
life the king turned to Zoroastrianism. 29 In his Great Inscription Sapur 
proclaimed that he owed his political successes entirely to the goodwill of 
Ahura Mazda (30). At the beginning of the fourth century Constantine the 
Great displayed a similar attitude with regard to the Christian God after 
his victories over Maxentius and Licinius. 30 Both rulers propagated their 
close relationship with a supreme god in a way that illustrates structural 
similarities between their ideas of kingship. On the Eastern side, one is 
reminded of the Sasanian reliefs that capture the 'King of kings' receiving 
the ring, symbol of his divine rule, that is Ahura Mazda handing over 
his power to the secular ruler; on the Western side, what comes to mind 
are the many images that underline the close link between emperor and 
God and show the emperor as the executor of divine plans in the world. 31 
Further parallels to the religious situation in Persia can be observed with 
regard to the motives, goals and consequences of Constantine's religious 
policy. As the Sasanian kings supported Zoroastrianism a long time before 
the conversion of Constantine, religious developments in Persia must have 
been significant for the events in the West. 32 

It is striking how much Sapur Fs aggressive policy against Rome rein- 
forced the claims made by the founder of the Sasanian dynasty, Ardaslr 
I, namely to rule the territories that had once made up the Achaemenid 
Empire (z). During his reign, Sasanian interests in the West reached a high 
point for the first time and Rome had to apply all its energies in order to 

28 On Mani and the religion named after him see MacKenzie 1979: 500—31; Hutter 1988; Lieu 1992 and 

29 On Zoroastrianism in the Sasanian Period see Zaehner 1975 and 1961; Duchesne-Guillemin 1983: 
866—908 and Boyce 1984a: 101—43 an d 1984b. 

30 See Brandt 1998: 32—7 and 128-46 for references. 

31 One famous example is the silver medallion from Ticinum, which probably dates to the year 315; 
see Brandt 1998: 135-7. 

32 Paul 1983: 108-12. 

2.i The third century 25 

deal with the threat. Although Sapur I suffered setbacks towards the end 
of his rule, West and East always remembered that he had defeated the 
Romans several times, that Gordian III had met his death in the battle of 
Mislk and that Valerian had been captured. 

The activities of Odaenathus of Palmyra rather than Roman offensives 
deserve credit for the fact that the territories and cities conquered by Sapur I 
remained in Persian hands only for a short period of time. On behalf of the 
Romans Odaenathus promoted Western interests against Sasanian claims. 
Sapur Is earlier rejection of Odaenathus' offer to ally himself with Persia 
backfired. The Roman emperor Gallienus (260—8) invested the Palmyrene 
king with almost unlimited power, and from the second half of the year 
260 onwards the Sasanians suffered several defeats at his hands. From 264 
onwards the Eastern frontier of the Roman Empire was quiet. 33 

When Odaenathus was assassinated in the spring of 267 Sapur I was 
finally liberated from a dangerous opponent. With Odaenathus' help 
Palmyra — which was favoured by its geographical location in the first 
place — had developed into a powerful buffer state between Rome and 
Persia. Odaenathus' successor Zenobia (267—72) took advantage of the so- 
called crisis of the Roman Empire 34 and fostered an unparalleled rise of 
Palmyrene power. Eventually, the creation of a Palmyrene kingdom that 
was independent from Rome was not tolerable. In the year 272 the Roman 
emperor Aurelian (270—5) attacked Palmyra and captured Zenobia, who 
was paraded through Rome in the emperor's triumph (13). 

The Sasanians did not intervene in the confrontations between Rome 
and Palmyra, possibly because the short reigns of Hormizd I (272—3) and 
Bahram I did not allow for any bold initiatives in foreign affairs. Removing 
Palmyrene power from the political map certainly strengthened the Roman 
position. Aurelian adopted the titles Parthicus and Persicus maximus^ and 
thereby emphasised his military achievements in the East. The Roman 
emperor Probus (276—82) travelled to the East twice; these visits included 
diplomatic contacts with the Persian opponent but no armed conflict. A 
Roman offensive was planned for the year 283 but was abandoned when 
the emperor was assassinated. 3 

33 De Blois 1975: 7—23. 

34 On this crisis' see Potter 1990; Bleckmann 1992; Strobel 1993; with further references Witschel 1999; 
Strobel 2001: 239-78. 

35 CIL in 7586 (= ILS 8925); vi 1112; viii 9040; xii 5549 and 5561; xm 8973 (= ILS 581); see also 
Kettenhofen 1986: 138-46. 

3 SHA Prob. 17.4; 20.1; for the year 279 the title Persikos megistos is attested; cf. P. Oxy. xiv 1713; for 
Probus' activities in the East see Crees 1965: no— 11 and 124—5; Kreucher 2003: 82—3 and 179-86. 

i6 2 A chronological survey 

His successor Carus (282—3) was proclaimed emperor with the explicit 
goal of destroying the Persian Empire. 37 This may be literary fiction but 
Carus translated into action a long-planned military offensive against the 
Sasanians. The Roman army invaded Mesopotamia and did not meet any 
Persian resistance.' 8 Internal unrest during the reign of Bahram II (276-93) 
may have favoured the successful advance and capture of Ktesiphon. 39 This 
was the only time ever that the Romans captured the Persian capital, which 
to some extent made up for the humiliation Rome had suffered in 260. Not 
surprisingly, Carus also adopted the titles Persicus maximus and Parthicus 
in order to display his success over the Eastern rival. 40 

Cams' sudden death prevented Rome from further advances. In the 
Historia Augusta we read that he was struck by lightning while in his 
camp at the Tigris. No Roman emperor was destined to advance beyond 
Ktesiphon. 41 According to the words of this so-called 'Ktesiphon oracle' 
Carus died because he did not abide by an oracular prophecy that anybody 
who tried to conquer the Persian capital would be punished. Rome's cau- 
tious dealings with Persia were thus expressed not only in political terms 
but also as a motif in the realm of myth and fiction. Cams' successor, 
Numerianus (283—4), withdrew his army immediately and without even 
negotiating for a peace. 42 The campaign thus had no consequences for the 
Sasanians. Rome was not able to use the prestigious victory over Bahram II 
and did not gain any territory in the long term. The latent state of war and 
the unsettled situation along the frontiers that had existed already before 
Carus' Persian campaign continued. 43 

Too many unresolved issues prevented a formal peace or agreement 
regarding the frontiers, and this did not change until the Roman emperor 
Diocletian (284-305) consolidated his rule and returned to the East in 286. 
Immediately, he started to reorganise Roman rule and the defence system 
along the frontier, a development which caused Sasanian concern. In the 
year 287 Bahram II sent ambassadors to Diocletian in order to negotiate for 
a peace treaty 44 Apparently the negotiations were successful and a peace 
was concluded without any territory changing hands. Diocletian was sat- 
isfied that the Sasanian king respected the existing Eastern frontier and in 

37 Anonymus post Dionem, frg. 12 {FHG IV 198). 

38 SHA Car. 8.1; Aur. Vict. Caes. 38.2—3; Eutr. ix.18.1; Fest. 24. 

39 SHA Car. 8.1; Pan. Lat. xi (in) 17.2 (p. 268, rec. Mynots). 

40 CIL vm 12522 (= ILS 600); IGRR 1 1144. 

41 SHA Car. 9.1; in this context see Kerlet 1970: 263-4. 4Z Aur. Vict. Caes. 38.6. 

43 For the Persian campaign of the emperor Carus see Winter 1988: 130-7. 

44 Pan. Lat. x (11) 7.5; 9.2. 

2.i The third century 27 

288 returned to the Western parts of his empire in order to intervene in the 
conflict with the Alamanni. 45 

Bahram IFs readiness to come to a friendly understanding with Rome 
indicates that the Sasanian king was preoccupied with domestic affairs. 4 
His brother Hormizd was rebelling against the legitimate ruler with the help 
of Eastern peoples such as the Saka and the Kusan, 47 and the Zoroastrian 
priest Karter was exerting more and more influence in the empire. The 
latter, who had been a political factor already during the reign of Sapur I, 
was now at the zenith of his power and had great influence over Bahram II. 48 
The king backed Karter in pursuing a repressive policy that aimed at the 
elimination of all non-Zoroastrian religions in Persia (2.9). 49 Measures by 
which Bahram increased the powers of the Zoroastrian priesthood reflect 
the king's efforts to unify his kingdom as well as to strengthen his own 
position. 50 This period saw the origins of the union between the Sasanian 
monarchy and the Zoroastrian religion that would become so significant 
for the history of the Sasanian Empire (28). The priest Karter expanded 
his power enormously and became the leading exponent of a movement 51 
that gained more and more independence from the monarchy. Reflecting 
the king's weak position, this development is probably the reason why 
Bahram yielded to Diocletian and was eager to come to an agreement with 
the emperor. From now onwards religious affairs became a significant and 
growing factor in the relations between the two great powers. 

Both sides respected the agreement of 288 while their energies were 
applied elsewhere. Already in 290 Diocletian once more headed East. In 
the following period he took numerous measures in order to strengthen 
the Roman position along the Eastern frontier. 52 Above all, he inter- 
vened in Armenian matters by restoring Tiridates III to the throne in 
290, thereby increasing Roman influence in this strategically important 
region. 53 Although Tiridates' realm of influence was limited to Western 
(Lesser) Armenia, Diocletian used the opportunity to win an important 
ally for the imminent conflict with Persia (2.6). The difficult situation 

45 On the Roman— Sasanian peace treaty of 288 see Winter 1988: 137—51. 

46 On the king's struggle to legitimise his rule see Winter 1988: 138-41. 

47 Pan. Lat. x (11) 7.5; 9.2; on the Saka see Bosi 1994: 109-22; Narain 1987: 27—31 and 1990: 151—76; on 
the Kusan see the glossary, and below p. 93 with n. 107. 

48 For Karter and his rise to power see Sprengling 1940a: 197—228; Chaumont i960: 339—80; Hinz 1971: 

49 Brock 1978: 167-81. s ° Decret 1979: 130-1, SI Metzler 1982: 144. 

52 The title Persicus maximus of the year 290 (CIL in 5810) emphasises Diocletian's successes in the 

East; cf. Enlslin 1942. 
5i Chaumont 1969: 93— in; Kettenhofen 1995c: esp. 48-55 and 144-68; see also p. 128 with n. 47 below. 

28 2 A chronological survey 

mentioned above forced Bahram II to watch the activities of the Roman 
emperor without taking any action. 

Since the capture of Valerian in the year 260 the balance of power 
between West and East had changed. The Sasanian Empire, which from 
its foundation in 224 had pursued an aggressive policy against its West- 
ern neighbour and had inflicted major defeats on Rome, suffered setbacks 
that were the result not only of its own internal situation but also of a 
recovering Roman Empire from the beginning of the 270s. In particular 
Diocletian's sensible and far sighted reforms 54 helped to get over the so- 
called crisis of the Roman Empire, and this had to affect the relations with 
the Eastern neighbour. Only when Persia's internal struggle for power 55 
ended in favour of king Narse (293—302) was the Eastern power in the 
position to revert to the policy of expansion pursued by the early Sasanian 
kings. 56 

In 296 Narse used the first opportunity for a military offensive against 
Rome and invaded the Roman part of Armenia. He benefited from the fact 
that the Romans had to deal with a revolt against their rule in Egypt. In 
297 Diocletian was determined to end the political unrest and issued an 
edict against the Manichaeans, whose religion was one of those persecuted 
by the Zoroastrian priest Karter in the Sasanian Empire but who from a 
Western perspective were perceived as followers of a Persian religion. 57 It is 
not clear, however, if the so-called 'Edict against the Manichaeans' of 297 
(31), which formed part of a general policy of religious restoration pursued 
by Diocletian and his fellow emperors, 58 should be seen in the context of 
the new Persian war. However, it is remarkable that persecutions of the 
Manichaeans ceased in Persia after 297 in order that their support could be 
used in the battle against Rome. 59 

In the year 297 the armies of Narse and Galerius ([293] 305-11), who 
had been made Caesar by Diocletian because of his military successes, 
clashed between Kallinikos and Carrhae; the Romans were utterly defeated. 
Ammianus Marcellinus tells us that Diocletian hurried to the scene and that 
Galerius, clad in purple, marched for nearly a mile before the carriage of 
the enraged emperor. Possibly, Diocletian humiliated Galerius in this way 

54 Brandt 1998: 19-26. 

55 On the quarrels over the succession to the throne after the death of Bahram II in 293 see Tanabe 
1991: 7-39. 

56 For a different interpretation see Wiesehofer 1993: 373 n. 54, who argues that Narse's attack was a 
preventive measure and not part of an expansionist Western policy. 

57 On the revolt in Egypt and the role of the Manichaeans as 'agents of the Persians' see Seston 1939: 

5S Strobel 1993: 337-8 and Brandt 1998: 25—6. 59 Frye 1983a: 131. 

2.i The third century 29 

in order to provoke his thirst for revenge. 60 And indeed, in 298 Galerius 
defeated Narse at Satala in Armenia. 61 There are many attestations of this 
particular Roman triumph against its Eastern rival (6). 

The new success against Persia made Rome forget the setbacks of the 
third century, in particular the capture of Valerian by Sapur I in 260. The 
reign of Diocletian instilled in the West a level of confidence regarding 
victory and peace that had been lost throughout the third century. Rome's 
successes reminded it of its former glory and accordingly were much empha- 
sised in Western historiography. In the Historia Augusta Diocletian is called 
the 'father of a golden age' {aurei parens saeculi). 6z Aurelius Victor refers 
to him as a father who had acted on behalf of his people. 6 ' Even Eusebius 
of Caesarea mentions the fortune and wealth of the reign of Diocletian in 
his ecclesiastical history 64 According to the emperor Julian (361-3) Dio- 
cletian, the 'ruler of the entire world', instilled such fear into his enemy 
that the Sasanian king had to accept his conditions for peace. 5 The pan- 
egyric literature praises the victory over Persia by emphasising that this 
empire was the only power in a position to diminish Rome's glory 66 In 
its preamble, the Prices Edict of the year 301, which is preserved on stone, 
mentions that the most fortunate stability and peace had been restored in 
the Roman Empire, if only with great difficulty 67 Coins that show the 
legend pax aeterna and securitas orbis were part of an imperial propaganda 
but also expressed how much the Romans hoped that they had returned to 
their former glory. 8 Diocletian was the man whom the state needed [vir 
rei publicae necessarius) . 9 

In the light of his crushing defeat at Satala Narse wanted to end the 
conflict as quickly as possible, in particular as he could otherwise expect 
Galerius to advance further into Sasanian territory. It was to his advan- 
tage that Galerius and Diocletian could not agree on a strategy. 70 Whereas 
Galerius intended to pursue Narse, who had taken flight, and take posses- 
sion of the Persian heartland, Diocletian saw the aims of the war fulfilled 
with the victory at Satala. He did not want to embark on new and uncertain 

60 So Klein 1997: 278. 

61 Enfslin 1936: 102-10; 1942: 40-5; for the chronology of the events see Barnes 1982: 54—5 and 63. 

62 SHA Heliogab. 35.4. 6 ' Aur. Vict. Cues. 39.8. 64 Eus. HE vm.13.9. 
65 Iul. Or. 1. i8a-b. 66 Pan. hat. vm (v) 10.4. 

7 Edictum DiocUtiani et collegarum de pretiis rerum venalium, praef.; for an English translation of the 
preamble and an early list of the prices see Grazer in Frank 1940: 157—74 (— Lewis and Reinhold 
1955 II: 464—72); for new fragments of the text see Crawford and Reynolds 1977; 125-51 and 1979: 
163—210; S. Corcoran is preparing a translation of all fragments; see also Brandt 1998; 78—86. 
Cf. e.g. references in RIC VI 1967: 145. 9 SHA Car. 10. 1. 

70 Aur. Vict. Caes. 39.36; see also Kolb 1987a: 85. 


2 A chronological survey 

200 km 

100 miles 

Land over 1000 metres 





Map 3: Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions 

military campaigns that could put at risk what had been accomplished so 
far. In the end, Diocletian prevailed in the negotiations at Nisibis. A peace 
treaty was concluded and put an end to the last of the Roman— Sasanian 
Wars of the third century Although the foedus of 298 put the Sasanians at 
a major disadvantage (17), Rome intended to respect the sovereignty of the 
defeated Sasanian ruler. 71 

71 Chrysos 1976: n— 17. 


The third century 


Map 3: (cont.) 

There is no doubt that the peace treaty of 298 made the Roman Eastern 
frontier more secure. During the first Tetrarchy the so-called Strata Dio- 
cletiana from Damascus via Palmyra to Sura 72 was built and fortified with 
numerous forts (map 3), and a security zone with military roads, fortresses 
and watch towers created between Hauran in Southern Syria and the Sinai. 

72 See Eadie 1996: 72—82; Konrad 1999: 392-410. 

32 2 A chronological survey 

The latter was later called 'Palestinian' or 'Arabian Limes'. 73 Given how 
important Persia was for Roman foreign trade (2.8), Diocletian had worked 
towards a settlement in which economic and strategic components comple- 
mented each other. It was his goal to reconcile questions of security with the 
control over the trade with the East, which was so important for Rome. 74 
The treaty established the Mesopotamian city of Nisibis as central to the 
trade between the two empires (17), and this role would continue in the 
future. From now on economic and strategic factors were also important 
in the diplomatic relations between both empires (2.7-28). Although there 
were still unsolved problems to do with the spread of information through 
diplomats, defectors and spies (35), for the time being the peace treaty of 
Nisibis formed the beginning of a peaceful period between Rome and Persia 
that would last for forty years — an exceptionally long period of peace in 
the history of Roman— Sasanian relations. 

UNDER SAPUR II (309-79) 

Very little is known about the successors of the Sasanian king Narse, 
Hormizd II (302-9) and Adanarse (309). They did not play a decisive 
role in Roman— Sasanian relations. It looks as if Hormizd II embarked on 
an unsuccessful Western campaign, possibly in order to take revenge for his 
father Narse's humiliating defeat, which he had witnessed. 75 A small note 
found in the so-called Chronicle ofArbela, a Syriac— Nestorian source of the 
sixth or seventh century whose authenticity and reliability are controver- 
sial among scholars, should be mentioned in this context. 7 The chronicle 
claims that Hormizd initiated his Western campaign in order to avenge 
the Roman persecutions of Christians that took place during the reigns 
of Diocletian and Galerius. 77 Hormizd II indeed showed tolerance to the 
Christians, who were a persecuted minority in both the Roman Empire 
and the Sasanian kingdom. His Western advance, however, did not bear an 
impact on the peace of 298. 

This peace between Romans and Persians ended during the reign of 
Sapur II (309—79), who renewed the aggressive Western policy of the early 
Sasanian kings. Sapur II intended to recover not only those territories 

73 On the development of this patt of the Roman frontier see Graf 1978: 1—26; Kennedy 1982; Bowersock 
1983: 76—157; Isaac 1992: 118—34. 

74 Seston 1946: 176—7. 75 Wiesehofer 1989: 68—71. ?6 See ibid. 68—9 n. 7. 

77 Chr. Arb. 11 p. 67, 9— 11 (tr. Kawerau); cf. Assfalg 1966: 19—36; on the significance of this source see 
Kettenhofen 1995b: 287-319. 

2.2 The fourth century 33 

that had been lost in 298 but also all of Mesopotamia and Armenia. It is 
possible that the king followed a far-reaching and programmatic foreign 
policy which included the restoration of the former Achaemenid Empire 
as far as the Strymon river (x)/ 8 Although Persia struggled with a period of 
political unrest after the death of Hormizd II, Rome kept to the agreement 
of 298 and thus missed a good opportunity for a military attack. Sapur II was 
still a child when he took over the throne but soon managed to consolidate 
his reign — the longest and one of the most renowned reigns of all Sasanian 
kings. The year 338 was an important turning-point because at this time 
hostilities with Rome started again. Changes in religious affairs that had 
occurred within the Roman Empire dramatically affected the relationship 
between the two great powers. The reign of Constantine the Great (306—37) 
ushered in the turning-point known as the 'Constantinian Revolution'. 79 
Since his victory over Maxentius (306-12) at the Milvian Bridge in the 
year 312 Constantine had been convinced that the well-being of the Roman 
Empire depended on its protection by the Christian God. From 312 onwards 
non-Christian religions were therefore repressed and the Christianisation 
of the Roman Empire took place at a much accelerated pace. The fact that 
Constantine turned to Christianity and furthered this religion in state and 
society encouraged the Christians in Persia to bond even more than before 
with their fellow-believers in the Roman Empire. 80 The more Constantine 
felt responsible for the well-being also of the Persian Christians, the more 
they became the natural allies of the Western arch enemy in the eyes of 
Sapur II. It is therefore not surprising that when the military confrontations 
between the two great powers resumed long-lasting and severe persecutions 
of the Christians in Persia began. Numerous acts of martyrs reflect the 
suffering of the Christians in this period and illustrate the political character 
of the persecutions (31). When Constantine the Great died on 22 May 337 
in the middle of his preparations for the Persian War, Sapur II used the 
opportunity to conquer Armenia, which had been Christianised since the 
beginning of the fourth century. The attack formed a prelude to numerous 
armed confrontations between Rome and Persia. 81 These lasted to the death 
of Constantius II (337-61), who ruled over the Eastern half of the imperium 
Romanum after the death of Constantine. Neither of the two sides gained 
any major advantages during this period (7). 

78 For the Roman— Persian relations under Sapur II in general see Barcelo 1981: 73—104 and Hunt 19 
11-14, 39-43 and 73-7. 

79 See Brandt 1998: 32—4 and Girardet 1998. ° Blum 1980: 26—7. 

Sl Blockley 1989: 465—90; on Constantius' objectives see Warmington 1977: 509-20. 

34 2 A chronological survey 

When the Caesar Julian (361-3), who agitated in the West, refused to 
reinforce Constantius' army against the Sasanians, the emperor was in a 
difficult situation. When, moreover, in the spring of 360 Julian was pro- 
claimed Augustus by his army in Paris, Constantius was forced to intervene 
against him in the West but died on his way in Cilicia on 3 November 
361. Towards the beginning of the year 363 his successor to the throne, 
Julian, renewed the Roman offensive in the East in order to deal with the 
situation along the Eastern frontier of the Roman Empire once and for 
all. His advance far into Sasanian territory was successful at first but ended 
in catastrophe. The emperor was wounded in battle and died on 26 June 
363 (8). In great haste a new emperor, Jovian (363—4), was proclaimed, 
who had to conclude a peace with Sapur II immediately. Jovian was in a 
hopeless situation and his main concern would have been to lead his army 
safely back to Roman territory; he therefore had no choice but to agree to 
the peace terms dictated by Sapur II, namely to surrender the conquests 
made by Diocletian, to give up Nisibis and Singara and to withdraw from 
Armenia (18). The hope for a lasting peace was not fulfilled. Sapur II felt 
bound by the treaty of 363 only as long as Jovian was alive. When the 
Roman emperor died in the following year he went back to his aggressive 
policy against Rome. In 371 he embarked on a campaign against Armenia 
(8), which led to nothing less than the division of Armenia between the 
Romans and the Sasanians. When Sapur II died in 379 Persia was more 
powerful than ever before. The king had been one of the greatest rulers on 
the Sasanian throne and was admired even by authors biased against him, 
such as Ammianus Marcellinus. 82 Apart from the continuing quarrels over 
Armenia, 83 the tensions between the two great empires ceased towards the 
end of the fourth century; 84 apparently the two sides moved closer together 
because both had a lively interest in guarding the Caucasian frontier and 
in sharing the cost of its defence (2.7). 


While the fourth century was characterised by the long reign of Sapur II 
and his aggressive Western policy and hence marked by numerous armed 

81 Schippmann 1990: 36-7. 

83 For a history of Armenia in the fourth century see Baynes 1910: 625—43; Garso'ian 1967: 297—320; 
ead. 1971: 342—52; Hewsen 1978/9: 99—126; for the partition of Armenia during the reign of Sapur 
III (383-8) see the references on p. 185 n. 56. 

84 For an analysis of Roman— Persian relations under Theodosius I see Gutmann 1991: 226-32. 

2. j The fifth century 35 

confrontations between the two powers, the fifth century shows an easing of 
tension between West and East. 85 The Christians in Persia also fared better 
after the death of the 'great persecutor'. 8 Especially the reign of Yazdgard 
I (399—420) displays a sympathetic attitude towards the Christians (31). 
The king was determined to retain peace with the Romans. In 408/9 the 
two sides came to an agreement that regulated the trade between West 
and East and served the interests of both sides (28). The sources further 
illustrate good relations at the beginning of this century by telling us that 
the emperor Arcadius (383—408) asked Yazdgard I to become the guardian 
of his infant son Theodosius after his death (9). However, refraining from 
an expansive foreign policy against Byzantium and sympathising with the 
Christians made Yazdgard I the target of accusations by the bellicose Per- 
sian nobility as well as the Zoroastrian priesthood. Towards the end of 
Yazdgard's reign the Christians were persecuted again (32.) and many Per- 
sian Christians escaped to the West. Yazdgard's successor, Bahram V Gor 
(420-39), demanded that Theodosius II (408-50) extradite them. When 
the latter refused, the Sasanian king continued the persecutions initiated 
by his predecessor. Moreover, in the year 421 Bahram V started a war with 
Byzantium. As neither of the two sides achieved any noteworthy successes, 
the war did not last for very long and a peace was concluded just one year 
later (19). 8? 

In the following period armed confrontations were only occasional and of 
short duration. 88 This is somewhat surprising if one considers how aggres- 
sive Sasanian attitudes towards Rome had been during the third and fourth 
centuries; the Roman Empire was in a difficult situation after the death 
of Theodosius the Great in the year 395 and during the course of the fifth 
century numerous peoples exerted pressure on virtually all borders of the 
imperium Romanum? 9 

Undoubtedly, developments in the religious sphere in the Roman Empire 
played a significant role in this context because in the past the situation 
of the Persian Christians had repeatedly provoked tensions between the 
great powers. The growing Christological differences within Christianity, 90 

85 On the Byzantine— Sasanian telations in the fifth century see Synelli 1986: 47—73; Rubin 1986: 677—95 
and Whitby 1988: 202-9. 

86 On the situation of the Persian Christians in the fifth century see Macomber 1968: 174—87. 

87 On the Roman— Persian relations in the first half of the fifth century see Lee 1987: 188—91; Schrier 
1992: 75—86; Blockley 1992: 52-67; Greatrex 1993: 1— 14. 

88 For an account of the confrontations between Theodosius II and Yazdgard II see Thompson 1950: 


89 For a survey of the situation in the East from Theodosius I to Anastasius see Blockley 1992: 39—96. 

90 On these see Spuler 1961: 174—9; on tne emergence of two separate Churches in the East see Heiler 
1971: 303-4O3- 

36 2 A chronological survey 

however, meant that in the fifth century the Christians in Persia were 
increasingly favoured and tolerated. After the Councils of Ephesus (431) 
and Chalcedon (451) 91 numerous followers of Nestorius' doctrine of Christ's 
dual nature fled to Persia and became crucial supporters of the Sasanian 
dynasty 92 In contrast to the Christians, who were attached to the see at 
Antioch, the Nestorians were not seen as potential spies but rather as allies 
in the battle against Byzantium. At the same time the Byzantine emperor's 
claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the Christian Church was 
rejected. 93 As a consequence religious persecutions ceased. In the year 484 
Barsauma, a fanatical follower of Nestorianism, used his influence to the 
effect that the synod of Bet Lapat, 94 supported by the Sasanian ruler Peroz 
(459-84), imposed the Nestorian religion on all Christian communities in 
Persia. 95 Within a short period of time the Nestorian Church established 
a close net of dioceses throughout the empire and Nestorianism became 
something like a second 'state church besides Zoroastrianism. 9 

Be this as it may, the lack of Persian pressure on the Western frontier 
may also be explained by the continuing conflicts with the Hephthalites, 
which forced the Sasanians to exert all their energies on the Eastern frontier 
(10). 97 The Hephthalites were among the peoples who had advanced from 
Dsungara to Central Asia and now ruled Sogdia, Bactria, the Western side 
of the Tarim Basin and Northwest India. 98 The Sasanian kings Yazdgard II 
and Peroz I in particular had to cope with the attacks of these peoples, who 
were also called the 'White Huns'. Yazdgard II was even forced to move his 
residence to the East for a few years in order to take better action against 
the Hephthalites. When Peroz I died in his battle against the Hephthalites 
Persian foreign policy entered a phase of complete inertia. 

There were no new confrontations with the Romans, although the 
Western power repeatedly tried to gain from the problems faced by its 
Eastern opponent. Emperor Leo I (457—74) refused the payments for the 
defence of the Caucasus passes that had been agreed upon by both powers 
in 441 and served the interests of both sides (2.7). However, Procopius states 
that Zeno (474—5/476—91) sent the magister officiorum Eusebios as ambas- 
sador to the Sasanian king Peroz I so that he would accompany the king 

91 On the councils of the fourth and fifth centuries see Young 1983. 

92 On Nestorianism see Stewart 1928. 93 Hage 1973: 182—7. 94 Morony 1990: 187—8. 

95 Gero 1981; on Barsauma as mediator between East and West see Brock 1992; Brock 1996: 69—85 and 
Teixidor 1995: 499—510. 

96 For the consequences of this development on the unity of the Church in the West see Haussig 1959: 

97 A survey of the history of Eastern Iran in the Sasanian period may be found in Bivar 1983a: 209—17. 

98 Zeimal 1993: 232-62. 

2.4 The sixth century 37 

on his campaign against the Hephthalites." Other instances also confirm 
solidarity between the emperor and the 'King of kings'. 

The period after the death of Peroz I in 484 symbolised Persian weakness 
also in internal affairs because the Sasanian monarchy had to give in to the 
increasing claims for power made by the nobility The successor of Peroz 
I, Balas (484—8), reigned for only a few years before he was deposed. A 
more and more powerful nobility handed the throne to Kavadh I (488- 
97/499-531). Within Persia, important events took place during the reign 
of this ruler, namely the so-called 'Mazdakite revolt' and the renewal and 
consolidation of the Sasanian monarchy (11). These events eventually led 
to renewed confrontations with the Romans. 


When Kavadh I regained the Sasanian throne in the year 499 100 the focus 
of Persia's foreign policy shifted back to the West. A return to the aggressive 
Western policy of the Sasanian rulers of the third and fourth centuries 
triggered numerous armed confrontations. 

In the year 502 the Sasanian king was in need of funds in order to pay 
the Hephthalites, who were now his allies. He approached the Byzantine 
emperor Anastasius I (491-518). When the emperor declined and instead 
demanded that the Sasanians return Nisibis, Kavadh used the opportunity 
to wage war against Byzantium. 101 In this war, which lasted for several years, 
Sasanian troops had the upper hand on many occasions and in 503 were 
able to take the strategically important city of Amida. In the year 505/6 
the fighting ceased. Renewed confrontations with the Hephthalites finally 
forced the Persians to seek terms for peace and they agreed to give up Amida 
and further territories that they had conquered in return for a high sum. 
The subsequent peace was concluded for a period of seven years but actually 
lasted for over twenty years. 102 

Although the following years did not see any further armed conflicts, 
the Romans in particular engaged in activities that had long lasting conse- 
quences. 103 In light of the previous war Anastasius realised that the Roman 
fortifications along the frontier were insufficient and could not prevent 
Persian advances. In the following years he therefore built new fortresses 
close to the frontier. 104 In Armenia he undertook extensive work to fortify 

99 Proc. BP I.3.8. IO ° Ibid. 1.6.1-18. IDI Lyd. Mag. m.51-3; Ios. Styl. 7.11-12; Proc. BP 1.7.1-2. 

102 Proc. BP 1.9. 1-25. io3 Greatrex 1998: 120-2. '° 4 Whitby 1986a: 717-35. 

38 2 A chronological survey 

Theodosio(u)polis. Across from the Persian fortress at Nisibis he founded 
the city Dara-Anastasioupolis, 105 which provoked tensions with the Sasani- 
ans who claimed that the location of the city, only twenty-eight stadia from 
the shared border, was a breach of the existing regulations. While open 
confrontations did not take place during Anastasius' reign, the Persian War 
was rekindled during the reign of his successor, Justin I (518-27). Io6 One 
main reason for this war was certainly the fact that both sides contended 
for the important border regions Lazika and Iberia as well as the Caspian 
Gates. Kavadh I, who wanted to secure his son Xusro's succession to the 
throne, tried to come to a peaceful understanding with Byzantium but 
failed (12). 

After that the relations between the two powers deteriorated. The unan- 
swered questions regarding Lazika and Iberia once more shifted to the 
foreground and were responsible for the war that broke out probably in 
526, not long before the death of Justin I. 107 Kavadh I died in 531, and at this 
point Romans and Persians were engaged in open war. In spite of several 
successes neither of the two parties was able to gain an advantage, with 
the result that a peace treaty was concluded in 532. Io8 The Romans agreed 
to submit large payments for the maintenance of the fortifications in the 
Caucasus as well as the protection of this unstable region, and also to move 
the base of the dux Mesopotamiae away from Dara to Constantia. 109 The 
Persians gave up significant places in Lazika, a region that was as impor- 
tant as it was disputed between the two empires. Although Procopius talks 
about the conclusion of an 'Eternal Peace' 110 in the context of the treaty of 
532, both powers were at war again shortly after. 

After the long but turbulent reign of Kavadh I Persia flourished under 
Xusro I (531-79). This king received the title Anosarvan' (= 'immortal 
soul') and was praised above all for his cultural achievements. Even his 
political opponents displayed respect to him, and during this period a 
strong Western interest may be observed in developments in Persia (37). 
The political relations with the Romans, however, did not remain unspoilt 
for long. Both sides used the peaceful phase after 532 in order to consolidate 
their own position of power and to carry out domestic reforms. Just as 
Justinian I (527—65) achieved great successes in both internal and foreign 
affairs, 111 Xusro I reorganised Persian society and introduced reforms of the 

105 Proc. BP 1. 10. 1— 19. Io6 For this Persian War see Vasiliev 1950: 254-74. 

107 Proc. BP 1.12.1-24. 

108 For the peace of 532 see ibid. 1. 22.1— 19; Rubin i960: 291—7 and Greatrex 1998: 213—21. 

109 Proc. BP 1.22.3—5 ana 16-18; Blockley 1985a: 70—1. II0 Proc. BP 1.22.3. 

111 For a critical evaluation of Justinian's activities see Rubin 1960-95; Evans 1996; Meier 2003. 

2.4 The sixth century 39 

tax system as well as the military, which increased Sasanian strike power 
significantly 112 

The period after the so-called 'eternal Peace' of 532 was therefore not 
really a detente because both great powers watched each other with suspi- 
cion. The great successes of Justinian I alarmed Xusro I. Procopius tells us 
that the Sasanian king soon regretted having concluded the peace thereby 
facilitating his opponent's tremendous expansion of power." 3 Towards the 
end of the 30s the situation was so tense that war was almost inevitable. In 
most modern accounts Xusro I is presented as the aggressor." 4 There were 
diplomatic activities preliminary to the war but these were geared towards 
improving their respective positions within a delicate international bal- 
ance of power (13 and 35). A dispute over border-land between two Arab 
tribes, the Lahmids and Ghassanids, was used to justify the outbreak of 
new hostilities (25). " 5 

From the spring of 540 Romans and Persians were once more at war. 
Initially, Xusro I scored a prestigious victory when he attacked and took 
Antioch on the Orontes (13). " 6 The inhabitants of the Syrian metropolis 
were deported to Persia (36). Justinian had not been able to stop the forceful 
Sasanian attack. As the majority of the Roman units were engaged in the 
West and not available to confront the Persian army, the emperor had to 
enter into negotiations (35). Both sides agreed to a truce under the following 
terms: Xusro had to withdraw whereas the Romans were obliged to make 
not only a single payment but also an annual tributary payment of 500 
pounds of gold." 7 Justinian accepted the terms because this was the only 
way for him to conclude his activities in Italy successfully. 

Xusro I withdrew his army very slowly to make sure that he would receive 
the stipulated payments. A formal peace treaty would not be concluded 
before the tribute had been handed over. The king moved his army to the 
gates of Chalcis, on which he imposed a ransom, and then crossed the 

112 On Xusro I's reforms see Grignaschi 1971: 87—147; Gnoli 1985: 265—70; Rubin 1995: 227—97 and 
Howard-Johnston 1995b; 211—26. 

113 Proc. BP 1.26.2. 

114 The most elaborate account of Justinian's Persian Wars may be found in Rubin i960: 279—84; see 
also Higgins 1941: 279—315; Blockley 1985a: 62-74. 

115 Already during the second half of the third century Rome and Persia had begun to entrust the 
defence of their frontiers to powerful Arab leaders (2.4). In the sixth century the allied Saracens, 
who fought both on the Sasanian and the Roman side, played a decisive role in the development of 
the armed confrontations between West and East (2.5); see in general Shahid 1984; 1988 and 1995; 
Ball 2000: 30—105. 

116 Downey 1953: 340—8 and 1963: 247—53; Liebeschutz 1977: 487—99 and Borm 2006: 301—28; on the 
Byzantine— Sasanian confrontations between 540 and 544 see Trombley 2005: 392—6. 

117 Proc. BP 11. 10. 24; on tributary and subsidiary payments as a common element of late antique 
diplomacy see Isaac 1995: 129—32. 

40 2 A chronological survey 

Euphrates at Barbalissos to extract money from several other cities." 8 The 
Sasanians also besieged the city of Dara in breach of the truce, but without 
success." 9 In the light of these activities Justinian did not feel bound to the 
agreements any more. 120 A peace was never concluded. 

The following year saw further military conflicts. This time the theatre 
of war was the region of Lazika, which had been the object of dispute 
earlier during the reign of Kavadh I. 121 When the Lazi made an appeal 
to Xusro I to intervene against the quartering and rule of Roman troops 
within their territory the king promised to protect them from the Romans 
whom Justinian had sent to fight Xusro. 122 With a strong force the Persians 
conquered Petra, a fortress situated on the Eastern coast of the Black Sea. 123 
In the meantime the Roman general Belisarius, who had been recalled from 
Italy and whom Justinian had sent against Xusro in the spring of 541, arrived 
in Mesopotamia. During the following years the battles in Armenia 124 and 
Mesopotamia were fought with changing luck and neither of the two parties 
scored a lasting success. Xusro was hoping, however, that an advance into 
Mesopotamia in the year 544 would bring a breakthrough. In particular, he 
decided to conquer Edessa in order to get hold of the Roman possessions 
beyond the Euphrates. 125 However, the siege of the city, which Procopius 
describes at length, was not as successful as the king had hoped and the 
Sasanians withdrew in return for a ransom payment. 12 

Both sides were now at the point where they recognised that the annual 
wars, which were more or less nothing but raids, neither achieved territorial 
gains nor served either side in the long term. They entered negotiations 
for a peace. While Justinian had an overall peace within the entire East in 
mind, Xusro I was only prepared for an armistice. He did not want to give 
up the dominant position he enjoyed in Lazika at the time. In the spring 
of 545 Justinian I gave in and had to agree to considerable payments. 127 

The armistice was concluded for five years but only four years later the 
confrontations resumed. 128 Until 556 the Sasanians suffered several major 
defeats and were pushed back to the borders of Iberia and the Persian part 
of Armenia. Almost all of Lazika was once more under Roman control. 129 

118 Proc. BP 11.12.1-34. '"> Ibid. 11.13.16-27. I2 ° Ibid, n.13.27-8. 

121 See Braund 1994: 287—314, esp. 292—6. I22 Proc. BP 11. 15. 1— 31. I23 Ibid. 11. 17. 3— 28. 

114 For the history of Armenia in the period see Adontz 1970. 

125 On the history and culture of Edessa, one of the most important cities in Northern Mesopotamia, 
see Drijvers 1977: 863—96 and 1980; Segal 1970; on Roman Edessa see Ross 2001. 

126 Proc. BP 11.26.5-46 and 27.1-46. I27 Ibid. II.28.6-u. 

128 For the sequence of events see Stein 1949: 503-16. 

129 The contemporary author Agathias gives us a detailed account of the armed confrontations regarding 
Lazika and the other Caucasian territories in the third and fourth books of his Histories; see also 
Stein 1949: 510—16. 

2.4 The sixth century 41 

In 551 a new armistice, which did not apply to Lazika, had been con- 
cluded for five years and was ending now. Xusro wanted to conclude 
a peace and sent envoys to Justinian. In 557 both sides agreed upon a 
general armistice, which included Lazika. Until a final peace treaty had 
been signed each would remain in possession of the territories they were 
occupying. 130 

It is not clear why it took another five years before a formal peace was con- 
cluded, as both sides were interested in a permanent settlement. Justinian 
was threatened by the Huns at the borders of his empire, and Xusro faced 
new and powerful enemies in the East. 1 ' 1 It is likely that neither of the two 
sides wanted to initiate negotiations for a peace in order not to appear in the 
weaker position. Both powers acted defensively, watched the opponent sus- 
piciously from a distance and tried to hide their own intentions. 132 Finally in 
autumn of 562 a formal peace (2.0) ended the second great Roman— Sasanian 
War of the sixth century. 

In the following period the focus of Persia's foreign policy shifted to the 
East and to the Arabian Peninsula. Between 546 and 562 the powerful empire 
of the Western Turks had formed in the Sasanian East. 133 After the fall of the 
Hephthalite Huns in 557 these became a natural enemy of the Sasanians, 
especially when they allied themselves with the Romans and established 
contractual contacts with Justin II (565-78). I34 This alliance together with 
the Persian advance all the way into Yemen (14) led to new tensions shortly 
after the foedus of 562 had been concluded. Xusro I Anosarvan was still king 
when in the spring of 572 another long lasting war between Romans and 
Persians broke out (i4). I3S 

While Roman units attempted but failed to take Nisibis 136 the Sasanians 
captured the Roman fortress of Dara and invaded and raided large areas of 
Syria. 137 In the following years both sides suffered heavy losses. Justin II was 
not getting any advantage out of the war and his empire was threatened 
by the Avars in the North and the Langobards in Italy; Tiberius, whom 
Justin had appointed to be his co-regent when he became severely ill in 
574, therefore decided to come to terms with Xusro I. 138 The parties agreed 

130 Agath. iv.30.8— 10. I31 Widengren 1952: 69—94; Golden 1992; Sinor 1990a: 285-316. 

132 Agath. iv.23.1. I33 Sinor 1990a: 285—316; Golden 1992; Christian 1998. 

134 For Justin's attempt to engage the Sasanians in a war with two fronts see Frye 1983a: 158-9. 

135 On this third great war in the sixth century see Bury 1966: 95—126; Whitby 1988: 250-75; Cowe 
1991: 265—76; Isaac 1995: 125—55. 

136 On the struggle for Nisibis see also Lee 1993a: 569—85 and Whitby 2000: 266-8. 

137 For these developments see Szadeczky-Kardoss 1979: 113— 18; on the situation in Syria see 
Liebeschuetz 1977: 487-99. 

138 On the peace efforts during this period see Winter 1994: 605—6. 

42 2 A chronological survey 

on a one-year armistice, which was later extended (575—8). As Armenia was 
excluded from the regulations, warfare continued. Diplomatic efforts did 
not bear fruit. As a consequence Xusro eventually invaded Mesopotamia 
even before the armistice had expired. In spite of initial Persian successes in 
Armenia and in the Roman part of Mesopotamia 139 the Romans were able to 
repel the Sasanian king, who finally sought peace. Before ambassadors could 
be exchanged Xusro I Anosarvan died. His son and successor Hormizd IV 
(579—90) made demands that — as Tiberius' envoys claimed — the Romans 
could not possibly meet. The state of war continued and lasted throughout 
the reign of Hormizd IV, even after on the Roman side Maurice (582-602) 
had become emperor. 140 

Apart from the war in Mesopotamia Hormizd IV had to deal with the 
Turks in the East, the Chazars 141 in the North and Arab tribes in the South. 
In particular the Western Turks became increasingly dangerous, similar to 
the Hephthalites during the fifth century. 142 With great efforts and entirely 
owing to the military genius of the Sasanian general Bahram Cobin the 
Western Turks were defeated and became tributary allies in 588/9. I43 Next 
Bahram Cobin was sent to the Southern regions of the Caucasus so that 
he could fight the war against Byzantium from there. Although initially 
he was victorious, he suffered a great defeat in the plains of Azerbaijan. 144 
Hormizd IV accused him of cowardice and decided to dismiss him. 145 His 
decision was to have far-reaching consequences for the course of Sasanian 
history and Persian— Roman relations. 

Bahram Cobin and his troops reacted with a rebellion and were soon 
supported by the Sasanian army in Mesopotamia. 14 Persia was in such 
turmoil that Hormizd IV was taken captive and blinded; in the spring of 
590 his son Xusro II Parvez (590-628) was proclaimed king. 147 His attempts 
to reach an agreement with the rebels were to no avail and he fled from the 
general, 148 who ascended the Sasanian throne on 9 March 590 and became 
King Bahram VI Cobln. 149 The latter had already sent envoys to Maurice 

139 Honigmann 1935: 22—3. I4 ° Higgins 1939: 55-70 and Whitby 1988: 250-75 and 276—304. 

141 On the Chazars see Golden 1990: 256-84. I4Z See Frye 1983a: 156 and Bivar 1983a: 215. 

143 Tabari, tr. Noldeke, pp. 270-5; Bosworth 301—5 (992—4); on Bahram Cobin see Shahbazi 1989: 
519—22; for the confrontations with the Turks see Goubert 1951: 121— 3. 

144 Theoph. Simoc. 111.7; for a detailed analysis of this battle see Goubert 1951: 123-5. 

145 Ibid, ni.8.1. I46 Ibid, iv.1-2. 

147 For the chronology of events see Higgins 1939: 51—2; 1955: 97; in general see also Whitby 1988: 

148 Theoph. Simoc. 1v.10.1-11; cf. Frendo 1989: 77—88; on Xusro lis escape into Roman territory see 
Goubert 1949: 81—98. 

149 Theoph. Simoc. iv.12.6; on the date of the crowning see Schreiner 1985: 300—1 n. 573-4 and Whitby 
1988: 296. 

2.4 The sixth century 43 

asking the emperor not to ally himself with Xusro. Bahram promised that 
if the emperor remained neutral he would hand over Nisibis and all of 
Mesopotamia as far as the river Tigris. 150 Xusro II Parvez in turn offered 
Maurice Dara, Martyropolis, part of Armenia and remission of the annual 
tributary payments. 1 ' 1 In Constantinople the opinions on what should be 
done were divided. The Senate demanded that Maurice give priority to 
the interests of his own empire, that is, to let Persia fall into a state of 
anarchy 152 However, Maurice decided to support the legitimate claims of 
Xusro II Parvez and to restore him to the throne. 153 In this way Maurice 
abandoned the basic principle of Western policy not to intervene in internal 
matters of the Sasanian Empire. 154 For the first time Roman and Persian 
units fought side by side. In the spring of 591 Xusro II embarked on an 
advance against Bahram VI Cobln. With Roman help he managed to defeat 
the rebel. 155 The latter escaped to the Western Turks but was assassinated 
a year later. 156 Xusro II Parvez was restored to the throne in 591 157 and 
the same year brought about a peace treaty, 158 which ended the third great 
Roman-Persian War of the sixth century. 

The following paragraphs summarise the relations during this century: 
at the beginning of the sixth century we observe a turning-point in the 
relations between the empires. By renewing royal power, dealing with the 
Mazdakite movement and introducing social reforms Xusro I Anosarvan 
enabled the Sasanians, who possessed immense financial resources, to inflict 
serious harm on their western neighbour. Although for a short period of 
time the reign of Justinian I revived the former glory of the Roman Empire, 

IS ° Theoph. Simoc. iv.14.8; Theoph. Chron. A. M. 6080 (p. 265, 24-6, ed. de Boor). 

151 Theoph. Simoc. iv.13.24. 

152 There is silence on this conflict in the Greek sources but the oriental literature provides us with 
stories embellished in the typical way; cf. e.g. the national epos Sahnama by the Persian poet Firdausi 
(died in 1020), a history of Persia from the beginning to Sasanian times (select Engl. tr. Levy 1996; 
German tr. Mohl vol. 7: 101—23); according to Theoph Sim. iv.14.1 and Tabarl (tr. Noldeke 283—4; 
Bosworth 311-12 [999]) Xusro II received military support from Byzantium without any delay. 
Xusro in fact had to wait several months for the requested aid; cf. Higgins 1941: 310 n. 88; on the 
discussion in Constantinople regarding Roman involvement in the Sasanian succession see also 
Goubert 1951: 143. See also ch. 8 n. 22. 

153 See also Frendo 1992a: 59-68 and Riedlberger 1998: 161-75. 

154 On the emperor's motives see Winter 1989a: 84—8. 

155 On the cooperation between Roman and Sasanian units and the decisive victory over Bahram VI 
Cobln at Gandzak see Theoph. Sim. v.n— 2; on the date of the battle see Higgins 1939: 53—4 and 
Schreiner 1985: 314-15 n. 744. 

156 See Christensen 1944: 445. 

157 Euagr. HE vi.19; Chr. pasch. a. 591; for an English translation with introduction see Whitby 2000. 
1,8 On this peace treaty see Goubert 1951: 167-70; on the frontier line after 591 see Honigmann 1935: 


44 -2 A chronological survey 

the emperor expended Roman power and consumed resources during his 
numerous military campaigns. 

During the sixth century the confrontation between Romans and 
Persians took place on a worldwide scale. 159 Not only the border areas 
but also the Avars, Turks, Chazars and Arabs were included in the struggle. 
Moreover, Roman activities in the Western empire as well as growing Sasa- 
nian difficulties in the East had an impact on the fighting between the two. 
Only when Maurice and Xusro II joined forces towards the end of the cen- 
tury did tensions cease, and an agreement was reached. Corresponding to 
the good personal relationship between Maurice and Xusro II Parvez, who 
saw himself as the son of the Byzantine emperor, the relations between 
the two sides remained friendly. However, this phase is not well docu- 
mented. Xusro II probably used the time in order to consolidate his rule, 
to revive the economy and to fill the royal treasury. When confrontations 
resumed at the beginning of the seventh century the Persians once more 
proved to be strong and very serious opponents for the Romans. 


After Maurice's downfall and assassination by the rebel Phocas (602—10) in 
602 the good relationship between Persians and Romans changed abruptly. 
Theodosius, supposedly Maurice's son, approached Xusro II for help. The 
king was prepared to avenge Maurice's murder; he received Theodosius 
with open arms at his court and proclaimed him the legitimate ruler of the 
Byzantine Empire. 1 : When he also imprisoned the envoys sent by Phocas to 
announce his take-over of the Byzantine throne, the two powers re-entered 
the state of war. Initially, Xusro II must have perceived this situation not as 
fighting a war against the Romans but rather as dealing with a tyrant. The 
parallels with the events of 590/1 are obvious. According to the Byzantine 
historian Theophylact Simocatta, in the king's eyes Phocas' usurpation 
of the throne was a justified reason for war. 162 This war represents the 
last great Roman— Sasanian confrontation, which — after the pinnacle of 

159 Higgins 1941: 279—315. 

160 Theoph. Simoc. v.3.11; Theoph. Chron. A. M. 6081 (p. 266, 13, ed. de Boor) and Tabarl, tr. Noldeke, 
275; Bosworth 305 (994). 

161 Tabari, tr. Noldeke 290; Bosworth 317 (1002). 

Theoph. Simoc. vm.15.7; however, the historian also remarks that the king used the events in 
Byzantium as a pretext in order to open war against the West once more; cf. Garsoian 1983: 578. 

2. 5 The seventh century 45 

Persian power - led to the fall of the Sasanian Empire and which brought 
on dramatic changes that involved the entire Middle East. 163 

At first Xusro II was determined to exploit the desolate situation within 
the Byzantine Empire and to expand the borders of his kingdom. Certainly 
favoured by the rebellion of the powerful Roman general Narses 4 the 
Persian army began an almost unstoppable advance to the West. Within 
five years the entire Eastern part of the Byzantine Empire fell into Persian 
hands (15). 165 The difficult situation within the Byzantine Empire, which 
continued after Phocas' downfall in 610, forms the background to a letter 
written by the Senate of Constantinople to Xusro II in the year 615. In this 
letter the 'King of kings' is asked to recognise the new emperor Heraclius 
(610-41) 166 as his 'legitimate child'. In turn, the emperor would honour him 
as a father deserved. 167 This is not the only example of a Byzantine emperor 
willing to pay a childlike respect to a foreign ruler. 168 At this point, however, 
Xusro II was no longer prepared to abandon his plans of an expansion in 
the West. When Alexandria fell and Egypt was lost in the year 619 169 the 
Romans were altogether in a hopeless situation. In contrast, Persia was at 
the height of its power. 

But the Romans recovered quickly. Internal developments helped the 
emperor to consolidate his position as well as to strengthen the empire's 
military force. 170 Moreover, after the fall of Jerusalem in 614 171 the Church 
supported Heraclius by offering its riches to help in his war against the 
Persians. Heraclius agreed to make high payments to the Avars and thereby 
managed to conclude a temporary peace (620) with them. His success 
marked a turning-point that eventually led to the final defeat and fall of 
the Sasanian kingdom. 

On the day after Easter 622 Heraclius and his army left Constantinople 
in order to re-conquer the lost territories. 172 At the beginning of the year 
623 the two armies clashed for the first time. The Persian general Sahrbaraz 
suffered a crushing defeat. As a consequence, Asia Minor was liberated from 
Sasanian rule. The victory boosted the morale of the Roman troops and had 
the Avars not broken the peace agreement they would have advanced even 

163 The most comprehensive account can be found in Stratos 1968: 103-17; cf. also Frendo 1995: 209—14. 

164 See Stratos 1968: 59-60. 

165 See Foss 1975: 721-47; Morony 1987: 87—95; Russell 2001: 41—71; Foss 2003: 149—70. 

166 On this emperor see Reining and Stolte 2002; Kaegi 2003. l67 Chr. Pasch. a. 615. 
168 See Dolger 1964: 61 n. 63. l69 See ch. 3 n. 219 below for references. 

170 Ostrogorsky 1963: 77—91; Stratos 1968: 257—82; Garsoian 1983: 588—92. 

171 Clermont-Ganneau 1898: 36-54 and Wheeler 1991: 69—85. 

172 Oikonomides 1976: 1-9. 

46 2 A chronological survey 

further. 173 Be that as it may, it did not take Heraclius long to offer higher 
payments and buy the neutrality of the Avars once more. In the spring of 
323 he began a new offensive via Cappadocia into Armenia, where he took 
Dvln and other cities and also moved further south against Gandzak. Here 
he destroyed an important Zoroastrian sanctuary that had been founded 
by the first Sasanian ruler Ardasir I (224-40), apparently in order to take 
revenge for the preceding raid of Jerusalem. The years 624 and 625 saw 
numerous confrontations between the two opponents in which the Romans 
were victorious for the greater part. However, as Heraclius could not score 
a decisive victory he withdrew to Cilicia in 625. I74 

In the following year Xusro decided to attack Heraclius' army in Cilicia 
and to march against Constantinople in order to gain a sudden decisive 
advantage. Sahrbaraz crossed Asia Minor and advanced as far as Calchedon. 
The situation became even more threatening when, shortly after, the ruler 
of the Avars, the Khagan, also pressed against Constantinople with a large 
force and besieged the city from two sides. 175 However, the Avars suffered 
a major defeat by sea on 10 August 626 and immediately withdrew so that 
the Sasanian plan of a united front against Byzantium failed and with it 
the whole Persian offensive. Sahrbaraz returned from Calchedon to Syria. 
At this point the last great Roman offensive began. 

While the capital was under threat, Heraclius stayed away from Con- 
stantinople so that he would not be surrounded. In Lazika he built 
up a new, powerful army and established contacts with the Chazars, a 
Turkish people located between the Sea of Azov and the Caspian Sea. This 
alliance between Romans and Chazars was to become both a threat to 
Persia and a characteristic of a new Roman Eastern policy. 176 In the sum- 
mer of 627 Romans and Chazars fought successfully against the Sasanians 
in the southern Caucasus region and conquered Tiflis in Sasanian east- 
ern Georgia. Then Heraclius decided to invade Sasanian territory 177 At 
the ruins of Niniveh the Roman troops clashed with a Persian army that 
Xusro II had sent against them in order to stop Heraclius' advance. When 
in December of 627 a battle was fought the Persians suffered a crushing 
defeat, which decided the war in favour of Byzantium. Heraclius moved 
on to find Xusro II in his favourite residence at Dastagird. The Sasanian 

173 On the Avars see Samolin 1957-8: 62—5; Pohl 1988; Daim et al. 1996. 

174 Zuckerman 2002: 122—55. 

175 Barisic 1954: 371—95; Stratos 1967: 370—6; Howard-Johnston 1995a: 131—42. 

176 On Heraclius' stay in the Caucasus region and his diplomatic contacts with the Chazars see Stratos 
1968: 197—203. 

177 For a detailed account see Kaegi 2002: 156—91. 

2. 5 The seventh century 47 

king escaped to Ktesiphon whereas Heraclius took Dastagird and set up 
his camp for the winter at the river Narbas. He did not attempt to attack 
Ktesiphon because of its strong fortifications. 178 

Internal developments in Persia rather than military confrontation ended 
the struggle. 179 Xusro II summoned all his generals in order to search for 
those who could be held responsible for the defeat at Niniveh. Provoked by 
fear, the generals revolted against Xusro II Parvez (590-628) and appointed 
his son Kavadh II Seroe as the new ruler. They were supported by the 
nobility, whom Xusro II had alienated more and more during his long 
reign. Moreover, his subjects had lost respect for the king when he took 
flight from Heraclius. All these factors contributed to Xusro s downfall. On 
25 February 628 Kavadh II Seroe was proclaimed king and soon after his 
father was imprisoned and executed. 

With regard to its external affairs, Persia was now in an entirely defensive 
position. Kavadh II and Heraclius concluded a peace (2.1) according to 
which the Persians were to give up the Roman territories of Armenia and 
the western part of Mesopotamia in the same year, Syria, Palestine and 
Egypt in the following year. The return and restoration of the Holy Cross 
in March of 628 180 symbolised the final victory of the West over the East 
and established a motif that would become notorious in the religious wars 
of later ages. 

When Kavadh II Seroe died during the first year of his reign (628) 
the Sasanian Empire started to disintegrate internally' 81 Kavadh's son and 
successor Ardasir III (628—30) was still under age, and so Sahrbaraz, who 
had been a powerful general during the reign of Xusro II, sought power. 
He killed Ardasir and proclaimed himself king (630). Apparently Heraclius 
supported his activities by putting soldiers at his disposal. 182 The emperor's 
behaviour thus forms a stark contrast with Maurice's earlier reaction to 
Bahram Cobin's claims against Xusro II Parvez. Heraclius was not interested 
in a legitimate succession but in exploiting Persia's internal difficulties, that 
is to make sure that his opponent would be weakened for as long as possible. 
Along with this attitude the direct relations between Romans and Persians 
ended because in both empires internal matters shifted to the foreground. 
As far as external matters are concerned, both were soon confronted with 
the onslaught of the Muslim conquerors. 18 ' 

178 Minorsky 1943-6: 243—65. 

179 For the events in the Sasanian Empire see Christensen 1944: 497—509 and Frye 1983a: 170—2. 
1 ° Cf. Baynes 1912: 287-99. 1 * On this process see Schippmann 1990: 72—7. 

182 Noldeke 1883: 31. l83 Cf. Fiey 1987: 96-103. 

48 2 A chronological survey 

After a rule of only forty days Sahrbaraz was also killed. In the following 
period military leaders and members of the Sasanian dynasty contended for 
power. After Sahrbaraz' death the following held the Sasanian throne for 
short periods of time: Xusro III, Boran, 184 Azarmeduxt, Hormizd V, Xusro 
IV, Peroz II, and Tarruxzadh-Xusro (= Xusro V). The constant struggles 
did not end until Yazdgard III (632—51) was crowned as the last legitimate 
heir to the Sasanian throne. Yazdgard's determination to restore former 
glory is manifest in the fact that his coronation took place in Istakhr, the 
home of the Sasanian dynasty 185 From Istakhr the king went to Ktesiphon 
and appointed Rustam supreme commander of his army. However, the 
long wars against Byzantium had exhausted the empire so that it could no 
longer develop great power. 

In the meantime changes in the Arabian Peninsula affected the entire 
political and strategic situation in the Near and Middle East. 186 In the year 
622 the prophet Muhammad founded a state in Madlna that would unite 
all Arabs under his own religious and secular rule. Muhammad intended 
to end tribal and religious fragmentation as well as Arab dependence on 
the great powers. Under the banner of Islam the prophet successfully put 
these goals into practice before he died in the year 632. His successors 
initiated a massive expansionist policy that combined religious fanaticism 
with an aggressive desire for conquest. The ensuing Arab offensive and their 
continuous triumphant progress were certainly facilitated by the weakness 
of the Romans and Persians, who had dominated the events in the Middle 
East for centuries. 

After some fighting along the borders in 636 a major battle took place 
at Qadisfya close to Hlra, which was the old capital of the former Lahmid 
state, where the Arabs inflicted a crushing defeat on the Sasanians. 187 Shortly 
after the Arab conquerors captured Seleucia, crossed the Tigris, invaded 
Ktesiphon and advanced further into the interior. 188 In 642 for a last time a 
large Persian army answered their attack at Nihavand but without success. 
The defeat accelerated the downfall of the kingdom. Although the Arabs 
had to continue fighting for some time before they had subjugated all 
areas within the Sasanian Empire, they faced merely local conflicts with 
individual independent rulers. Yazdgard Ill's reign continued void of glory. 

1 4 With observations on late Sasanian imperial ideology see Daryaee 1999: 77—82. 

185 Bivar and Boyce 1998: 643-6; Wiesehofer 1998c: 1145-6. 

186 Endrel? 1997; on the prophet Muhammad see Bobzin 2000. 

187 On this battle and the subsequent events see the detailed account by Spuler 1952: 8-21; cf. also 'Abd 
al-Husain Zarrinkub 1975: 1—33 and Hinds 1984: 39-53. 

188 Hinds 1984; 39-53; Daryaee 2002; 3—18. 

2. 5 The seventh century 49 

Constantly in flight and in search for allies who would assist him against 
the Arab invaders he finally came to Merv where he was assassinated in 651. 
The death of this last member of the Sasanian dynasty marks the official 
end of the history of the Sasanian Empire, which in fact had already ceased 
to exist after the battle at Nihavand. 189 

Although the Romans celebrated a triumphant success when the Holy 
Cross was restored in Jerusalem in March 628, I9 ° the continuous struggle 
with Persia had taken its toll. Soon after the Romans had re-conquered Syria, 
Palestine and Egypt, these territories were lost once more, this time to the 
Arabs. After a significant battle at the river Yarmuk in August 636 Syria fell 
into Arab hands. 191 The conquerors had already taken Damascus in 635, and 
in 637 Jerusalem fell. After the Persian defeat at Qadislya the Arabs occupied 
the Roman possessions in Mesopotamia in order to attack Armenia from 
there. In 639 they finally attacked Egypt, which was conquered by 646. The 
most important Eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire had thus fallen 
under Arab rule. 192 The Arab conquest reveals yet once more the historical 
significance of the struggle between the Romans and Persians for hegemony 
in the Near and Middle East: no doubt the exhausting confrontations 
between West and East had fostered the Islamic expansion. 193 

189 See Tyler-Smith 2000: 135—70. 

190 Grumel 1967: 139—49; Whitby 1998: 247—73; on the date of this restoration see Speck 2000: 167—79. 

191 On the battle see Kaegi 1992; 112—46; on Syria during this period see Foss 1997: 189-269. 
191 Stratos 1972: 40—62; Donner 1981 and 1995: 337—60; Kaegi 1992. 

193 Zakynthinos 1979: 64-5; Kaegi 1992. 


Sources and contexts 


Political goals 

In order to understand the intense and multi-faceted relations between 
Romans and Persians during the course of late antiquity — and in particular 
the many military confrontations that continued into the seventh century - 
one has to address the overall political goals of the two great powers. These 
goals are therefore the starting point of the second part of our survey, in 
which we present and analyse the source material. 

Whereas Roman generals of the Late Republic already boasted that as 
Alexander's successors they had extended the borders of the Roman Empire 
to the ends of the earth 1 and scholars agree on Rome's claim to world 
domination, 2 namely to rule an imperium sine fine ('an empire without 
borders') 3 or 'an empire that extended from sun rise to sun set', 4 there is no 
corresponding consensus among scholars with regard to the goals that drove 
Sasanian foreign policy. The following examination therefore focuses on 
the Sasanian claims and the ideological background of the Sasanian foreign 
policy vis a vis Rome. This should not, however, evoke the impression that 
the Sasanians acted as aggressors and the Romans as defenders of threatened 
possessions or territories, which, obviously, the latter had conquered in long, 
violent wars from an unwilling population. On the contrary, the reader 
should be aware that such a 'eurocentric' view, which has been prevalent 
for many decades in the scholarly literature, is not justified in any way 5 

1: Territorial claims of the Sasanians against Rome 

The contemporary sources presented in this chapter indicate that immedi- 
ately after ad 224 the Sasanians refused to acknowledge Rome's supremacy 
in the Near and Middle East. The enormous Persian capacity for expansion 

1 Diod. xl. 4. 2 Cf. Badian 1971; Raaflaub 1996: 273—314. 

3 Verg. Aen. 1.279; c£ a l so P- : 3 n - 22 above. 4 Horace Carm. iv. 15. 14— 15. 

5 On the scholarly discussion see van de Mierop 1997: 285-306 and (with references) Hauser 2001a: 


54 i Political goals 

during the course of the third century was based on and reinforced by the 
euphoric successful foundation of the Sasanian Empire and moreover facil- 
itated by the deep 'crisis' Rome faced during this period, a crisis that forced 
the Western power into a defensive position and led to the primary goal of 
preserving its own possessions. However, as soon as the political, economic 
and social problems of the Roman Empire receded, the Romans similarly 
exploited phases of instability within the Sasanian Empire and embarked 
on numerous military offensives against the territories held by their Eastern 
opponent in order to underline their claim to world domination, which 
continued to exist up to the fall of the Roman Empire. Evidently, the impe- 
rial prestige on both sides significantly fostered the emergence of conflicts 
between the two powers. 

Herodian vi.2.1-2 

(1) For thirteen years he [sc. Severus Alexander] reigned in this way, and so far 
as it was up to him, irreproachably. In the fourteenth year, 6 however, he was 
suddenly sent reports by the governors in Syria and Mesopotamia informing him 
of the following: the Persian king Ardaslr [I] 7 had defeated the Parthians and had 
dissolved their rule in the East. He had put to death Artabanos, 8 who used to be 
called Great King and had worn two diadems. 9 Moreover, Ardaslr had conquered 
all of the barbaric areas around and was forcing them to pay tribute. He was still 
not satisfied and was not staying within the borderline of the river Tigris but 
crossing its banks and thus the borders of the Roman Empire. He was overrunning 
Mesopotamia and threatening Syria. (2) He was determined to re-conquer for 
Persia the whole territory across from Europe and cut off by the Aegean Sea and 
the Sea of Marmara, which as a whole is called Asia, because he viewed this as 
his inheritance, arguing that the whole area, as far as Ionia and Caria, had been 
administered by Persian satraps from the time of Cyrus, who was the first to transfer 
power from the Medes to the Persians, to the time of Darius, the last of the Persian 
kings, whose power the Macedonian Alexander destroyed. He claimed that it was 
now his task to renew this empire for the Persians just as they had possessed it in 
the past. 

Herodian composed his history of the Roman Empire, which covers the 
time period between 180 and 238, in the third century. Although the author, 
who wrote in the Greek language, favoured the rhetorical and literary 

The number of years is historically not correct. It should be the tenth year of the reign of Severus 

Alexander (= 232), whose dies imperii was 13 March 222. 
7 Herodian calls the first Sasanian king Ardaslr I (224—40) by his Greek name Artaxerxes'; for reasons 

of consistency the translations of the sources use the conventional names of the respective rulers. 

This is the last Arsacid ruler Artabanos IV (213—24). 
9 On the iconography of this Parthian ruler with 'two diadems' see Gall 1980: 241—50. 

i Territorial claims — Sasanians vs Rome 55 

aspects of his work over historical accuracy, 10 the above passage attests 
to important political changes within Iran. The successful revolt of the 
Sasanian Ardaslr I (224—40) against the ruling dynasty of the Arsacids led 
to the fall of the Parthian kingdom and became the foundation of the 
Neo-Persian Sasanian Empire. The consequences of this development for 
the Romans are evident. The Roman emperor received reports from the 
East that speak not only of an immediate threat for the Eastern frontier as 
well as Mesopotamia and Syria but also of Sasanian territorial claims that 
affected all of Asia Minor. Herodian explains these aspirations by referring 
to Ardasir's argument that all territories east of Europe and the Aegean 
Sea had once been part of the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the 
Great, the ancestor of the Sasanians. Ardaslr thus presents his claims as an 
inherited right and his political goals as legitimate. 

Cassius Dio, who wrote a history of Rome that ended with the events 
of the year 229, also points to the dangers arising for Rome when power in 
Iran changed hands. This contemporary author is in general judged to be a 
more reliable source, but in accordance with Herodian he states that Ardaslr 
was planning to re-conquer everything the Persians had once ruled, all the 
way to the Aegean Sea. 11 This also corresponds to the Sasanian tradition, 
which is now lost but has been passed on through Muslim scholars. The 
Arab historian Tabari, who lived in the ninth/tenth century, is the main 
representative of this learned tradition. 12 He reports that Ardaslr started an 
uprising in order to avenge the blood of the last Achaemenid ruler Darius 
III, who had been defeated by Alexander the Great. Tabari moreover reveals 
that Ardaslr intended to return power to the legitimate family and to restore 
it as it had existed during the reigns of his ancestors, 13 who had lived before 
the 'vassal' kings. 14 

Succession to the former Persian kings included, so Ardaslr believed, 
ruling the territories they had ruled. Although knowledge regarding the 

10 See Miiller 1996; on Herodian as a historical source for the third century see Alfoldy 1974: 89-m; 
Zimmermann 1999a and 1999b: 119—43. 

11 Cass. Dio Lxxx.4.1.; cf. Bering-Staschewski 1981: 112— 13; on the relation between Herodian and 
Cassius Dio see also Alfoldy 1971: 360—6. 

12 Tabari, tr. Noldeke 2—3; Bosworth 3-4 (813—14); on Tabari and his work see Sezgin 1967: 323—8; 
Springberg-Hinsen 1989; 32-4; see also the relevant chapters on the Arab authors al-Mas'udi (29) 
and Ibn Miskawayh (29 and 37). 

13 The Neo-Persian 'letter of Tansar 1 , which probably goes back to the late Sasanian period but refers 
to the reign of Ardaslr states that the king did not want to give peace before he had avenged Darius 
against the successors of Alexander (letter of Tansar, p. 42; tr. Boyce 65; cf. Fowden 1993: 29—30; in 
n. 72 Fowden points to Mas'udl naming Ardashir as restorer of the Achaemenid achievement and 
principal forerunner of Muhammad's Islamic Empire'. 

14 This is a reference to Parthian rule; on the 'vassal kings' see the glossary. 

56 i Political goals 

Achaemenid dynasty must have been sparse during the Sasanian period, 
the fact that the Western and Eastern traditions agree speaks for itself. 
Apparently, immediately after the foundation of the empire in 224 the 
Sasanians demanded possession of all of Mesopotamia, Syria, Asia Minor, 
Armenia and Egypt as well as control over Arabia and the Red Sea. 
These goals conflicted with the claims made by the Roman emperor, who 
saw himself as successor to Alexander the Great and wanted 'to rule the 
world'; they deepened the antagonism between the Western and the East- 
ern power and led to numerous military confrontations that lasted into 
the seventh century 15 A recurring question throughout this book will be 
whether and how far these wide-reaching Sasanian goals were strictly lim- 
ited to the context of the foundation of the empire and attempts to legit- 
imise the rule of their own dynasty, or if Sasanian claims to areas out- 
side Iran were an ideological premise of a programmatic foreign policy 
that lasted significantly beyond early military conflicts between the two 

2: Succession to Achaemenid rule as programmatic foreign policy 

The Sapur Inscription on the Ka "ba-i Zardust at Naqs-i Rustam (SKZ), 
§ / The Parthian text 

I, the Mazda-worshipping god' Sapur, King of Kings of the Aryans and non- 
Aryans, scion of the gods, son of the Mazda-worshipping 'god' Ardaslr, King of 
Kings of the Aryans, scion of the gods, grandson of the 'god' Pabag, the King, am 
ruler of the Empire of the Aryans. 

With regard to our knowledge of Roman— Sasanian relations in the third 
century we cannot overestimate the significance of an epigraphic testi- 
mony that dates to the reign of the second Sasanian ruler, Sapur I (240—72), 
namely Sapur's great trilingual inscription on the Ka'ba-i Zardust ('Cube 
of Zarathustra') in Naqs-i Rustam, near Persepolis (map 5). The inscription 
informs us about Sapur's conception of himself and his political goals, 
about the make up of the Sasanian state and about religious matters in the 
Sasanian kingdom. By analogy with the Res gestae divi Augusti, the famous 
and also epigraphic report of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, the text is 
called Res gestae divi Saporis. Sapur I probably composed it himself during 
the final years of his life, before his son Hormizd had it inscribed after his 
father's death. Between 1936 and 1939 scholars of the Oriental Institute of 

15 Cf. in contrast Strobel 1993: 287—8 and the references in n. 31 below. 

2 Succession to Achaemenid rule 57 

Chicago discovered the inscription. In 1940 it was published for the first 
time. Numerous studies of the text have appeared since then that illustrate 
the extent to which the inscription complements the Western tradition 
with its more vague and impressionistic account of the Roman— Persian 
confrontations. In particular, the inscription draws attention to aspects that 
authors writing in Greek and Latin neglect altogether. Taken in conjunction 
with its place of origin and the object inscribed, the content of the text 
throws significant light on the political goals and rule of the second Sasanian 
ruler. Sapur I uses the title 'King of kings', which had previously been used 
by the Achaemenid Great Kings. 17 The additional title 'King of Iran and 
non-Iran' 18 attests to the universal character of Sapur's claims, which were 
among other things also directed against Rome. 19 E. Kettenhofen cautions 
us that the king does not explicitly claim an old Achaemenid legacy in 
order to legitimise his political goals vis-a-vis Rome. 20 Sapur neither labels 
his conquests 'former Achaemenid territory' nor does he reclaim the whole 
area to the Sea of Marmara as Persian legacy 21 However, the genre of the 
text may be responsible for the lack of such explicit claims. In his report, 
the Sasanian ruler displays facts that serve to praise his military and political 
achievements. M. Rostovtzeff suspected that the inscription followed the 
official annals of the Sasanian ruling house, which — as was traditional in 
the ancient Near and Middle East — recorded the king's deeds day by day 
and year by year. According to this interpretation the inscription is a kind 
of epitome of an official history 22 Undoubtedly, the text's main objective 
is to display Sapur as he wanted to be viewed; that is, defeats are omitted, 
just as they are in the Western tradition of historiography. 

Apart from Sapur's official title 'King of the kings of Iran and Non-Iran' 
the inscription contains further Achaemenid reminiscences. We may start 
with the fact that the text was cut into the Ka'ba-i Zardust. The building, a 
kind of tower, was a fire sanctuary built during the reign of Darius I and was 
located in the valley of Naqs-I Rustam, an important Achaemenid place of 
worship (fig. 1). Here the Achaemenids worshipped their former kings in 

16 For a bibliography see Kettenhofen 1982: 12—18; 1983: 151-71 and Huyse 1999: 9— n (vol. 2). 

17 On the significance of this title for the Arsacids see Wiesehofer 1996: 55—66. 

18 Gignoux 1987: 30-1; Gnoli 1989; Wiesehofer 2001: 287, 'In SKZ Shapur uses it to denote all the 
regions he (temporarily) conquered (Syria, Cappadocia, Cilicia), while he accounts Armenia and 
the Caucasus region as part of Eran, although they were primarily inhabited by non-Iranian people. 
Kirdir lists Armenia, Georgia, Albania, Balasagan, as well as Syria and Asia Minor, as regions of 

"> Gnoli 1987: 509-32. z ° Kettenhofen 1984: 184-5. " Ibid. 

22 Rostovtzeff 1943/4: 20—1; cf. also MacDonald 1979: 77-83. 


Political goals 

. lb' - ' r i'i'i 

Fig. I The Achaemenid rock tombs at Naqs-I Rustam and the Ka'ba-i Zardust 

(Gallas, K. (1978) Iran. Kulturstdtten Persiens zwischen Wiisten, Steppen unci Bergen: fig. 34: 

drawing in Flandin, E. and Coste, P. (1843—54) Voyage en Perse pendant les annees 

1840 et 1842) 

monumental rock tombs. 23 The three languages of the inscription (fig. 2) 
also illustrate an attempt to take up Achaemenid traditions. Middle Persian, 
Parthian and Greek were the three official scripts in the Sasanian Empire. In 
contrast to the Middle Persian text, which was discovered first, the Parthian 
and Greek translations of the Middle Persian have been preserved fairly well. 
The Middle Persian text was inscribed on the eastern side of the Achaemenid 
shrine, the Parthian and Greek texts on the southern and western faces. The 
monumental royal inscriptions of the former Achaemenid rulers had also 
been trilingual (Babylonian, Elamite, Old Persian). 24 This parallel cannot 
be a coincidence. 

23 Cf. Fowden 1993: 29, 'It is unreasonable to maintain that the Sasanians had no knowledge at all of 
the Achaemenids. There were, for instance, the visible monuments of the past such as the tombs of 
the Achaemenids at Naqsh-l Rustam, a place that the Sasanian dynasty too regarded as of central 
significance and obviously not by coincidence'; cf. also Potter 1990: 372f 

24 On these Achaemenid trilingual inscriptions see Kent 1953: 116—35; on the origins of the trilingual 
documentation see Ghirshman 1965: 248—9; on the Achaemenid royal inscriptions in general see 
Koch 1992: 13—28; for a comparison of the three versions and on the 'original' text see Huyse 1999: 
182—209 (vol. 2); on the official and spoken languages in the Achaemenid and Sasanian Empires see 
Schmitt 2000: 21—42 and 45—7. 

2 Succession to Achaemenid rule 



^ iJ^isfc.. 

Fig. 2 The three languages of the Sapur Inscription (SKZ) 

(Schmidt, E.F. (1970) Persepolis III. The Royal Tombs and other Monuments: pi. 9 A-B: 

Southeast and Southwest Corner) 

60 i Political goals 

In the fourth century the Sasanians still referred to the Achaemenid 
dynasty in order to legitimise their own territorial claims. The contempo- 
rary historian Ammianus Marcellinus, whose knowledge of the situation 
in the East was extensive, includes a letter of the Sasanian king Sapur II 
(309-79) in his work. In this letter, the king demands that the Roman 
emperor Constantius II return Armenia and Mesopotamia and in addition 
to these all territories to the Strymon river and the borders of Macedonia 
which had belonged to his ancestors. 25 Elsewhere the author reiterates that 
Sapur II claimed territories reaching as far as Bithynia and the coasts of 
the Sea of Marmara. 26 E. Kettenhofen raises the objection that the Roman 
historian does not quote Sapur literally and that the letter should not be 
viewed as an authentic testimony. However, there is no reason to believe 
that the king's letter did not include the phrase ad usque Strymona flumen 
et Macedonicos fines. We would not do the author, who must be accorded 
high credibility, 27 justice if we see Sapur's claims as they are presented in 
Ammianus as mere 'literary reminiscences'. 2 Most scholars agree that in 
Roman eyes Sapur's references to the borders of the former Achaemenid 
Empire were a delicate and dangerous political threat. 29 

As Roman-Persian relations progressed in time, there are but few hints 
that show the East adopting Achaemenid ideology 30 Be that as it may, in 
spite of numerous setbacks, the dynamics of the Sasanian Western poli- 
cies from the third to the seventh century illustrate a desire to restore the 
Achaemenid borders (15). 

This interpretation should not lead us to assume that the Sasanians 
were necessarily the aggressors and responsible for every war they fought 
with the Romans. In many instances, the activities of the latter were far 
from 'reactive' or 'defensive'. On the contrary, there is no doubt that Rome 
repeatedly pursued an offensive policy in the East. However, it seems jus- 
tified to talk about a programmatic Sasanian foreign policy, which formed 
the counterpart to the Roman claim to world domination. 31 Scholars 
correctly point to these rivalling ideological claims to explain how Rome and 

25 Amm. xvii. 5. 3— 8. 26 Ibid, xxv.4.24. 

27 Cf. the important works by Matthews 1989a and Barnes 1998; with regard to the situation in the 
East see Matthews 1986: 549—64; on the Sasanians as Rome's main opponent in the East see Straub 
1986: 218—22. 

28 Kettenhofen 1984: 183—4 an d 190; Seager 1997: 253—68; Teitler 1999; 216—23; Trombley 1999: 17—28. 

29 See Rubin i960: 252 ('ein Politicum von gefahrlicher Brisanz 1 ); for a different interpretation see 
Strobel 1993: 288. 

30 Yarshater 1971: 517—31. 

31 This interpretation is controversial among scholars; see Kettenhofen 1984: 177—90; Wiesehofer 1986b 
177-85; Winter 1988; 26—44; Panitscheck 1990: 457—72; Potter 1990: 370—80; Gnoli 1991: 57-63 
Wolski 1992; 169—87; Lee 1993a: 21-32; Fowden 1993: 24—36; Wiesehofer 1994: 389—97, esp. 392 
Kettenhofen 1994a: 99-108; Roaf 1998: 1—7; Daryaree 2002: I— 14; Shahbazi 2002c: 61-73; Huyse 
2002: 298—311. 

H 35° E 

45°E H 

Map 4: The Roman— Sasanian Frontier in late antiquity 

6i i Political goals 

Persia consistently failed to become long-term partners on the basis of a 
mutually accepted international law. 32 In other words, the universal claims 
on both sides hardly allowed for a peaceful coexistence. They had a tremen- 
dous impact on how both sides handled latent conflicts; almost always the 
enemy's real or apparent weaknesses were met by an aggressive behaviour. 
Over centuries the borders between Rome and Persia were contested and 
military confrontations took place almost without interruption. 33 

32 Grey 1973: 24—40 and Funke 1996: 225—6. 

33 For an overview see Ensslin 1939: 126-37; f° r tne period before ad 337 see Millar 1996: 127-89. 



3: Sasanian armament and tactics 

Heliodorus, Aethiopica ix.15.1—6 

(1) The character of their armament is the following. A selected man chosen for 
his bodily strength wears a helmet 1 that is compact and made of one piece, and it 
is skillfully crafted to look exactly like a man's face. He is covered by this from the 
top of his head to the neck except for the eyes in order to see through it; he equips 
his right hand with a pike longer than a spear, the left is free for the reins. He has 
a sabre hung by his side under his arm, and he is armed with a corselet not only 
across his breast but also across the rest of his body. (2) The construction of the 
corselet is as follows: they forge plates of bronze and iron into a square shape that 
is a span long on all sides, and they fit one to the other at the edges on each side so 
that the one above always overlaps with the one below and the one alongside with 
the one next to run on continuously, and they furnish the conjunction with hooks 
under the flaps; thereby they create a kind of chiton clad in horny scales, which 
clings to the body without causing pain and covers it on all sides, tracing each limb 
and not hindering movement as it contracts and extends. (3) For there are sleeves, 
and it reaches from the neck to the knee, separated only at the thighs, as much as is 
necessary to mount a horse's back. Such a corselet it is, a protection against missiles 
and a defence against all wounds. The greave reaches from the top of the foot to 
the knee, fastened to the corselet. (4) They fence their horses all around with a 
similar equipment, tying greaves around the feet, and they bind the whole head 
tightly with frontlets, and from the back to the belly they suspend on either side a 
covering plaited in iron, so that it serves as armour but at the same time because of 
its slackness does not impede the fast pace. (5) Having equipped or rather encased 
the horse in this way the rider gets on, not leaping up but with others lifting him up 
because of the weight. When the moment of battle comes, he drives his horse with 
the rein, applies his spurs and goes with all his force against the enemies, looking 
like an iron man or like a moving image wrought with the hammer. (6) With its 
point the pike protrudes a lot, being held up against the horse's neck by a rope. The 
butt-end is fastened alongside the horse's thighs with a knot, so that it does not 

1 Grancsay 1963: 253—62; Overlaet 1982: 189—206. 


64 2 Warfare 

give way in clashes but supports the hand of the rider, which only gives direction 
to the blow; the rider, however, exerts himself and presses for the wound to be even 
harsher; through his force he destroys everyone whom he encounters, and with 
one blow he may often transfix two. 

Maurice, Strategikon xi.i 

The Persian nation is wretched, dissembling and servile, but also patriotic and 
obedient. It obeys its rulers out of fear. Because of this the Persians are capable 
of enduring their work and engage in wars on behalf of their fatherland. Eager 
to deal with most serious matters rather by way of counsel and strategy, they pay 
attention to order and not to courage and rashness. Raised in a hot climate, they 
easily bear the annoyance of heat, thirst and the lack of food. They are awesome 
when they lay siege, and even more awesome when they are besieged; they are 
extremely apt in hiding their pain, in holding out nobly in adverse circumstances 
and turning these to their advantage. And in negotiations they are irreconcilable so 
that they do not offer themselves what they want to choose for their own benefit 
but as recipients are offered this by their enemies. They are armed with cuirass or 
thorax, bows and swords, 2 and experienced in quick - but not forceful - archery, 
more than all other warlike nations. Going to war, they encamp within fortified 
boundaries. When battle arises, they create a ditch and a sharp palisade around 
themselves; they do not leave the baggage train in this but create the ditch to have 
a refuge from a critical situation in battle. It is not their practice to let their horses 
graze but to let them gather their feed from the hand. They are set up for battle 
in three equal parts, the centre, the right and the left, with the centre having up 
to 400 or 500 selected men in addition. They do not create an even depth within 
the formation but try to line up the cavalry in each unit in the first and second 
line or phalanx and to keep the front of the formation even and dense. They place 
the supernumerary horses and the train a short way behind the main line. When 
they are in battle against pike men it is their practice to place their main line in the 
roughest landscape and to use their bows in order that the attacks of the pike men 
against them are dispersed and easily dissolved by the difficult terrain. Not only 
before the day of the battle do they like to delay the fighting, in particular when 
they know that the enemies are well prepared and ready for fighting, encamping 
on the most inaccessible ground, but also during the battle itself, in particular 
in the summer, they like to make their attacks around the hottest hour, in order 
that through the boiling heat of the sun and the delay in time the courage and 
spirit of those lined up against them slackens, and they make their charges step 
by step in an even and dense formation, because they walk gently and attentively. 
They are, however, distressed by the following: the cold and the rain and the south 
wind, which ruin the force of their bows; a formation of infantry that is carefully 
composed; a place with an even surface or a bare one because of the charges of 
pike men; dense fighting because showers of arrows become useless from close 
by and because they themselves do not use pikes and shields; pressing forward in 

2 Rostovtzeff 1943: 174—87; Paterson 1969: 29—32; Overlaet 1989: 741-55 and Masia 2000: 185—9. 

3 Sasanian armaments and tactics 65 

battles because they rush to immediate flight and do not know how to suddenly 
turn against their attackers, as do the Scythian nations; attacks and encirclements 
as the result of an outflanking on the sides and rear of their formation because 
they do not place good flank guards in their line to sustain a major attack; often 
also unexpected nightly attacks against their camp because they place their tents 
without distinction and at random within the encirclement of the camp. It is thus 
necessary to line up in battles as the treatise about formations says, namely to 
choose ground that is even, open and level, so far as possible, which does not have 
swamps or ditches or shrubs so as not to dissolve the formation. When the army or 
formation is well prepared do not delay the attack, if it has been firmly decided to 
fight on that day. In battle, launch the charges and attacks when close to the reach 
of the bows, even and in dense order, and swiftly, lest through a delay in getting 
to hand-to-hand combat the enemies, sending a continuous shower of arrows, get 
to afflict our soldiers and horses with even more missiles. 

The two passages are excerpts from two very different sources, each of 
which provides us with an impressive as well as vivid account of Sasanian 
armament and tactics. 3 Heliodorus, who tells us that he was a 'Phoenician 
from the city of Emesa, from the family of the descendants of Helios', is 
the author of a Greek novel entitled Aethiopica ('Aethiopian stories'). The 
date of this work is uncertain but it was probably composed in the third 
century, or possibly the second half of the fourth century 4 As a genre, the 
Greek novel was extremely popular. The Aethiopica tells the love story of 
a certain Theagenes and an Aethiopian princess Chariclea, whose adven- 
tures take them all the way to Delphi. 5 Because of its wide geographical 
scope this novel is particularly interesting. In our passage the contemporary 
observer Heliodorus describes the mailed Sasanian cavalry 6 which under- 
lines the significance of this source with regard to questions of cultural 

The second source relates to the late phase of Byzantine— Sasanian rela- 
tions. A work entitled Strategikon 7 is attributed to the Byzantine emperor 
Maurice (582-602), who secured the throne for the Persian king Xusro II 
Parvez (34). This is a manual on military affairs composed in Greek, which 
contains much information concerning military tactics, the organisation 
and line-up of the army, military training and the use of armament as well as 
siege craft and instructions for generals. It is not clear whether the emperor 

3 For a general background see Tafazzoli 2000. 

4 Cf. van der Walk 1941: 97—100 and Szepessy 1975: 279—87; Bowie 1999: 40—1. 

5 See Winkler 1982: 93-158 (also in Swain 1999: 286—350); Szepessy 1984: 432-50; Hunter 1998. 

6 On the Sasanian mailed cavalry see Bivar 1972: 271—91; Michalak 1987: 73-86; Mielczarek 1993: 51—67; 
Campbell 1999: 339. 

7 For the Greek text see Dennis 1981; for an English translation see Dennis 1985; also Kollautz 1985: 

66 2 Warfare 

Maurice was indeed the author of the work but it is fairly certain that the 
text originates from some time between the end of the sixth and the begin- 
ning of the seventh century. The confrontations with the Islamic Arabs that 
began in the 630s are not mentioned. 8 Although the so called Strategikon of 
Maurice is one of many comparable military treatises that were composed 
in the early Byzantine period, 9 it stands out as one of the most important 
works and adheres to the reality of its time in an exceptional way. Moreover, 
it is of special value because of its detailed descriptions of foreign peoples 
and possible opponents, such as the Avars, Slavs and Persians, which provide 
us with important historical and ethnographical information. 

Both texts give insight into the character of Persian armament and battle 
techniques as well as tactical counter-measures adopted by the Byzantine 
army 10 The extremely detailed descriptions of Sasanian armament, tech- 
niques and strategies are vivid and accurate, which surprises and impresses 
the reader. Many of the observations correspond not only with the late 
antique accounts of particular battles between Byzantium and the Persian 
Empire 11 but also with the numerous visual testimonies. Many Sasanian 
silver bowls, finest examples of Persian art and culture, represent the king 
in full armour and engaged in hunting. 12 The depicted equestrian statue is 
most likely that of the Sasanian ruler Xusro II (590— 628) 13 because it was 
found in the grotto of Taq-i Bustan (map 5), 14 immediately below the rock 
relief representing the investiture of this king. It is not only one of the most 
important monuments of Sasanian art 15 but also the latest one among the 
known Sasanian rock reliefs (fig. 3). 

The equestrian statue shows the king in full armour. 1 He is armed like a 
clibanarius of the heavy Sasanian cavalry. The equipment of both rider and 
horse are visible in all details. In 1821 Sir Robert Ker- Porter made a drawing 
of the relief to illustrate his book Travels in Georgia, Persia, Armenia and 
Ancient Babylonia; in its own way it conveys a good impression of both 

8 For a discussion of the date and authorship see Whitby 1988: 242. 

9 Hunger 1978: 329—30. 

10 Cf. e.g. Speidel 1984: 151— 6 and Negin 1995: 65—75. 

11 Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 179 and 297 n. 92; Greatrex 1998: 169-85 and 195—207; Wiita 1977: 

12 For the most important examples see Ghirshman 1962: figs. 207—11; 247—54; see a l so Peck 1969: 
101—46; Tanabe 1981: 105-18; Wilcox and McBride 1986: 36—48; Harper 1983: 1113-29. 

13 Several scholars have attributed this rock relief to king Peroz (459—84); cf. Ghirshman 1962: 193; on 
the interpretation of this relief see also Shepherd 1983: 1086-89. 

14 Ghirshman 1962: fig. 235; on the significance of Taq-i Bustan as a place for royal self-representation 
see the references pp. 92—3 nn. 87—90. 

15 Fukai and Horiuchi 1962—72; Fukai 1972. l6 See also Wilcox and McBride 1986; 41. 

3 Sasanian armaments and tactics 


Fig. 3 Equestrian statue of Xusro II at Taq-i Bustan 

(Ghirshman, R. (1962) Iran. Parthians and Sassanians: fig. 235) 

(Photo: Ph. Claude Deffarge-Rapho) 

the monumentality of the work and the many details eagerly added by the 
artist (fig. 4). 

Testimonies such as the two passages that opened this chapter attest not 
only to the Western insight into Persian customs and tactics but also to 
an awareness in the West that the powerful Persian military was well wor- 
thy of and in need of investigation. 17 The respect accorded to the Persians 

17 Cf. also Lee 1993a: 103-4. 



i Rock reliefs 
i Other remains 
(Yazd) Modern towns 


TakhFi Sulaiman 



Qasr-i Shlrm ( Hamadan >- 

Halush" _. ■Hatsin 

' Quri *Jaq-i Bustan 

/Taq-i Girra '(Kirmanshah) 

300 km 

20 miles 


< Qazvln > MAZANDARAN - NTshapur. 

Kalar Dasht ■ . " Te P e Hl ? ar 

(Tehran). "Shahnstanak Qal'a-yi Dukhtar BazT Hur 

Ray" BVaramin . . 

Kai Ka'Cs .' Tam -< Rus,am KHURAS; 

■ Niyasar 


Aivan-i Karkha 

■ ■ Natanz 





Map 5: Sasanian Sites 

and their army was certainly crucial. Although in general the Strategikon 
displays a hostile attitude towards the Eastern opponent, its author is full 
of admiration when addressing specific aspects of the Sasanian military. 
The texts therefore reveal how tough and tenacious the military strug- 
gle between the great powers was and how much the relationship cen- 
tred on strategic advantages and the numerous campaigns fought between 
the third and the seventh century — campaigns that lasted over decades 
and moreover demanded long logistic and strategic preparations. 18 On 

Lee 1989: 257—65 and Whitby 1995: 61—124. 

5 Sasanian armaments and tactics 

6 9 

Fig. 4 Sketch of the relief from Taq-i Bustan 

(Sir Robert Ker-Porter, Travels in Georgia, Persia, Armenia, Ancient Babylonia During the 

Years i8ij, 1818, 1819 and 1820. Vol. II, London 1822, pi. 62) 

the Roman 19 as well as the Persian side 20 matters concerning the organisa- 
tion of the army and its resources were paramount throughout late antiquity. 

19 See Eadie 1967b: 161-73; MacMullen 1980: 451-60; Kaegi 1981a: 209-13; 1982; Turtledove 1983: 216- 
22; Kennedy 1989: 235—46; Coulston 1990: 139—60; Dixon and Southern 1992; Isaac 1995: 125—55; 
Kennedy 1996c. 

20 See Inostrancev 1926: 7—52; Frye 1977: 7-15; Coulston 1986: 59—95; Shahbazi 1986: 496—9; Hamblin 
1986: 99-106; Nicolle 1996; Tafazzoli 2000. 


Military confrontations 

Diplomatic contacts and an intensive exchange of information regarding 
a variety of issues — economy and trade, the security of the borders, reli- 
gious and cultural matters etc. — formed an important part of Roman- 
Persian relations. However, it was above all the military confrontations that 
characterised Rome's relations with her Eastern neighbours. These were as 
numerous as they were of long duration. Both powers' claim to univer- 
sal rule pointed out in the previous chapter did not leave any room for a 
stable coexistence on the basis of international law. Almost inevitably, or 
rather instinctively, any perceived or real weakness provoked the military 
initiative of the opponent so that from the third into the seventh century 
a state of war between the two has to be seen as 'endemic'. 1 The analy- 
sis of these military confrontations is therefore predominant in this study, 
not because of an imbalanced modern view of Roman— Sasanian relations 
that adopts a 'confrontational perspective' but because of the actual his- 
torical events, which were experienced and analysed by the contemporary 
observers in a similar way. These also emphasise the opposition between 
West and East and focus on sometimes very elaborate descriptions of a 
permanent struggle for a powerful position and strategic advantages in the 
Near and Middle East. This is - and rightly so - reflected in modern schol- 
arship, which has always paid particular attention to questions of peace and 
war as well as triumph and defeat. Our diachronic survey thus includes a 
detailed account of the rivalry between the two powers as it is expressed in 
the numerous military confrontations. The theatres of war included both 
the Eastern Roman provinces and the Western regions of the Sasanian 

1 See Hauser's review on Winter and Dignas 2001 {BMCR 2002.05.06). 


4 Earliest Roman— Sasanian confrontations 71 


4: Earliest Roman-Sasanian confrontations (230-3) 

In the year 230 Ardaslr made his first advance into Roman territory. 3 The 
Persians besieged Nisibis and undertook raids that led them as far as Syria 
and Cappadocia. 4 Ardaslr seemed determined to put his political ideas 
into practice. The Roman emperor reacted with dismay to the Sasanian 
invasions. 5 On several occasions he sent ambassadors to the king in order to 
negotiate for a peaceful solution but Ardaslr repeated his aim to re-conquer 
former Achaemenid territories. 6 A military confrontation was therefore 

There are but few Western sources that help us with a reconstruction of 
the events, and the ones that do exist contradict one another. The Eastern 
tradition does not yield any precise references. Tabari's remark that Ardaslr 
was always victorious and that his army had never been defeated is typical. 7 
Herodian's elaborate but problematic account 8 is closest to the events in 
time and allows for a closer analysis. 

Herodian vi.6.4-6 

(4) When Alexander arrived in Antioch he recovered quickly because after the dry 
heat in Mesopotamia the much cooler air in the city and its good water supply 
felt pleasant. He wanted to win back the soldiers' loyalty and tried to appease their 
anger by promising them a lot of money. He thought that this was the only remedy 
when it came to regaining the good will of soldiers. 9 He also gathered and prepared 
a force for a new attack against the Persians, should they cause problems and not 
give peace. (5) He was informed, however, that the Persian king had demobilised 
his force and had sent all units back to their homelands. Although the barbarians 
seemed to have been victorious through the help of some superior force, 10 they 
were still worn out by the many clashes in Media and the battle in Parthia, where 

2 For sourcebooks on Roman— Persian relarions in the third century see Felix 1985 and Dodgeon 
and Lieu 1991. 

3 On the history, origin, course and outcome of this war see Winter 1988: 45—68. 

4 Herodian vi.2.1; Cass. Dio Lxxx.3.4; Zon. xii.15. 

5 On the relationship between the two rulers see Potter 1987: 147—57. 

6 Herodian vi.2.4 and vi.4.5 (for an Engl. tr. of these passages see Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 17 and 

7 Tabarl, tr. Noldeke 21; Bosworth 1999: 17 (820). 

8 Zon. xii. 15 is based on Herodian's account. On Herodian see p. 55 n. 10. 

9 These words once more reveal Herodian's critical view of Severus Alexander, whose skills in warfare 
he tends to judge very negatively. 

10 The expression ek tou kreittonos has been interpreted in various ways; cf. Miiller 1996: 332; another 
possible translation would be 'by superiority of military force'. 


5 Military confrontations 



Theodosiopolis i 


Dvin # 
Mt Ararat' 



Cilician Gates 







Dura Europos 




300 km 


200 miles 



Map 6: The Roman Near East and the Western Regions of the Sasanian Empire 

4 Earliest Roman— Sasanian confrontations 



Qasr-i Shinn 

•Taq-i Bustan 
Kirmanshah • Nihavand 

\ Canal 

Karkha d Ledan 



Naqsh-i Rustam Stakhr 

Persepolis »30°N 
BTshapur" # Guyum 
B _ . •ShTraz 

Barm-i Dilak* 

Map 6: (cont.) 

74 5 Military confrontations 

many had died and even more had been wounded. For the Romans had not been 
cowards but had in a way also inflicted great harm on their enemy; moreover, 
they had been inferior only because they were fewer in number. (6) In fact, almost 
the same number of soldiers had fallen on both sides and the surviving barbarian 
soldiers seemed to have won because of their number and not their force. A clear 
indicator of the barbarian losses is the fact that they remained quiet for three or 
four years and did not take up arms. When Alexander found out about this, he 
decided to stay in Antioch; he became more optimistic and lost his fear, and as he 
was relieved from his concerns about the war he relaxed and enjoyed the pleasures 
of the city. 

Herodian describes the situation after hostilities had ceased in the summer 
of the year 233. While the Roman emperor Severus Alexander spent his time 
in Antioch preparing an army for a new attack, he received the news that 
the Sasanian king had dismissed his soldiers because the Persians had also 
suffered great losses. Herodian's comments - in particular his remark on 
the equal numbers of soldiers who had died on both sides — are surprising 
because this passage is preceded by a detailed account of the hostilities which 
clearly describes a crushing Roman defeat. 11 The author's psychological 
characterisation of the Roman emperor tends to be rather schematic. We 
therefore have to apply caution with regard to Herodian's claim that Severus 
Alexander's dithering and timid behaviour provoked resentment within the 
Roman army 12 However, in spite of inconsistencies in the author's report it 
looks as if Herodian observed an 'undecided' outcome, which means that 
matters in the East were not yet settled. 13 

It is difficult to assess the historical accuracy of Herodian's narrative. In 
particular authors of the fourth and fifth centuries evaluate the outcome 
of the fighting differently and talk about a great Roman victory 14 They do 
not mention Severus Alexander's difficult situation. The biography of the 
emperor in the Historia Augusta, especially, presents him as the triumphant 
victor. This so-called collection of the Scriptores Historiae Augustae includes 
thirty biographies of Roman emperors and usurpers that cover the time 
period from Hadrian to Numerianus. The biographies were all composed 
by the same pagan author towards the end of the fourth century (?) and 
were not, as they purport to be, a collection of biographies written by 
six authors during the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine the Great. 15 

11 Herodian vi.5.5— 10. 

12 Ibid. vi. 5. 8 and vi.6.1; on Herodian's tendency to accept stereotypical characterisations and to distort 
his material along these lines see Zimmermann 1999a: esp. 321—9. 

13 Winter 1988: 63—8. I4 Fest. 22; Aur. Vict. Cues. 24.2.7.; Eutr. vm.23; Oros. vii.17.7. 

15 On this collection of Latin imperial biographies see especially the commentaries written by an 
international team of scholars and published as Alfoldi, Straub and Rosen 1964—91 and Bonamente, 
Duval and Paschoud 1991; for further bibliographical references see Johne 1998: 639—40; Birley 1976 
with an English translation. 

4 Earliest Roman— Sasanian confrontations 75 

The description of the Persian War of Severus Alexander and the obvious 
idealisation of the emperor illustrate how problematic these biographies are 
as a historical source. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Severus Alexander 56.2 and $—8 

(2) From the senatorial records of the seventh day before the Calends of 
October: 16 Senators, we have defeated the Persians. There is no need for long 
explanations, you should learn only this much, how they were armed and what 
their contingents were. . . 

(5) We scattered 120,000 of their cavalry, we killed 10,000 mailed horsemen, 17 
whom they call Clibanarians/ 8 in battle and equipped our men with their armour. 
We captured many Persians and then sold them into slavery. (6) We re-conquered 
the area between the streams, namely Mesopotamia, which had been given up 
by that vile beast. 19 (7) We put Ardaslr (I), the most powerful king (not only by 
name but also in fact) to flight once and for all so that he was seen in flight even 
on Persian territory, and the king escaped to where our standards had once been 
taken, 20 leaving his own standards behind. (8) These, Senators, are the facts. There 
is no need for further explanations. Our soldiers are returning as wealthy men, in 
light of the victory nobody feels the fatigue. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Severus Alexander 57. 2—3 

(2) This we found in both the annals and many authors. Some, however, claim that 
he was betrayed by his slave and that he did not defeat the king but fled himself so 
that he would not be defeated. (3) For those who know the testimonies well there 
is no doubt that this is against the prevailing view. This minority even claims that 
he lost his army through hunger, cold and disease, as Herodian states against the 
prevailing view. 

In a Active speech, the emperor boasts of his military achievements, which 
present him as the glorious victor over the Persians. The emperor's skills in 
warfare and his successes are central to the passage. Although the author 
knows Herodian's account and explicitly names the author, he does not rely 
on his work and doubts his credibility because Herodian's remarks would 
spoil the image of the princeps bonus. 

1 This is a fictive document dating ftom 25 September 233, which the author of the vita claims to cite. 

17 There is no doubt that this number is exaggerated; the origins of these catafactarii go back to the 
sixth century BC. These were heavily armed cavalry from the areas around the Aral Sea who had been 
integrated into the Seleucid army Since the time of Hadrian the mailed horsemen also appear in 
the Roman army; for a description of their elaborate suit of armour see Amm. xvi.10.8 and xxv.1.12; 
on Persian armour and fighting in general see Wilcox and McBride 1986 and 3 above; on the two 
powers' military and strategies see Coulston 1986: 77—91; Frye 1977; 7—15. 

18 For equating catafractarii and clibanarii see Amm. xvi.10.8 and Veg. Mil. in. 24; whereas the clibanarii 
were soldiers whose horses also wore mailed armour, the horses of the Roman catafractarii were not 
mailed; see 3 above, on Sasanian armament and tactics. 

19 This is a reference to the Roman emperor Elagabalus (218—22). 

20 In 54/53 BC the Roman standards were lost when Crassus was defeated at Carrhae; cf p. 12 n. 13. 


5 Military confrontations 

Fig. 5 Coin of Severus Alexander, reverse, 233 

(Cohen, H. (1955 2 ) Description historique des monnaies frapees sous ['empire romain 

communement appelees medailles imperiales IV/2: Alexandre Severe nr. 446) 

(Cabinet de France. Medaillon de bronze) 

The biography follows other much more concise testimonies, 21 which 
the author of the Historia Augusta embellishes rhetorically. Topoi such as the 
elaborate preparations for the war, the flight of the Persian king, the victory 
of Severus Alexander and his triumph in Rome appear in the majority 
of the extant sources; the anonymous author of the biography elaborates 
on these with much literary freedom and offers the more questionable 
and remote testimonies in the place of a well-informed and contemporary 
source. The account is clearly panegyrical. 22 Numismatic evidence attests 
to a Roman victory and celebrates the emperor's successful return from the 

The reverse of a coin dated to the year 233 depicts Severus Alexander 
crowned by the goddess of victory Victoria, at whose feet we see the person- 
ified river gods Euphrates and Tigris (fig. 5). The propagandistic character 
of the image is obvious. Strictly speaking, a representation of the emperor 
as the master over the two rivers was not correct because this claim did 
not correspond to the actual frontier between the Roman and the Sasanian 
Empire. It is noteworthy that the legend (pm trp xii cos hi pp), which 
shows parts of the typical imperial titulature, does not include the titles 
Parthicus maximus or Persicus maximus^ No other testimonies confirm 
Rome's territorial gains as they are suggested by the coin. 

21 Cf. n. 14. 2Z Rosger 1978: 167—74. 

23 Kienast 1990: r77— 8; on the question whether these titles are attested at all for Severus Alexander 

see Winter 1988: 60—2; on the liberal use of the terms Parthi/Persae see Kettenhofen 1984: 189 and 

Winter 1988: 227. 

5 Sapur I at war with Rome jj 

In general, the coins of Severus Alexander are based on older types, which 
the emperor Trajan issued in order to celebrate his successes in the East and 
which were later also used by Marcus Aurelius as well as Lucius Verus. 24 The 
choice of these motifs illustrates the aim to depict Severus Alexander as the 
same triumphant victor over the Persians. After the war in the East further 
coins were issued whose legends Victoria Augusti, Iovi Propugnatori, Marti 
Propugnatori or Pax Aeterna Augusti make it clear that the outcome of the 
Persian War was to be seen as a victory 25 This type of propaganda emerged 
immediately after the events of 233 and was taken up and rhetorically 
embellished by later authors. An analysis of the source material has thus 
shown that the outcome of the first Roman-Sasanian confrontation is far 
from clear. 2 It is neither possible to talk about a splendid Sasanian victory 
nor to view the Roman emperor as a triumphant victor over the Persians. 
It rather looks as if each side withdrew their armies and thereby ended the 
first Roman— Sasanian War because both sides had suffered considerable 
losses. The Romans retained their positions along the middle Euphrates. 

5: Sapur I (240-72) at war with Rome 

The second Sasanian ruler Sapur I (240—72) scored a number of presti- 
gious military as well as diplomatic successes against Rome. In numerous 
triumphal reliefs he boasts of his victories over his Western opponent. The 
depicted relief cut into the rock at Bisapur synchronises the successive con- 
frontations with the Roman emperors Gordian III, Philip the Arab and 
Valerian within one scene (fig. 6). 27 Sapur's report of his achievements that 
was inscribed on the Ka'ba-i Zardust in Naqs-i Rustam (2.) also informs 
us about these wars and describes the events from a Sasanian perspective 
soon after they took place. First, let us turn to the reign of Gordian III 

The Sapur Inscription on the Kdba-i Zardust at Naqs-i Rustam (SKZ), 
§§ 6—y The Parthian text 

(§ 6) And as soon as we had become the ruler of the territories, the emperor Gordian 
conscribed a force taken from the entire Roman Empire, the Gothic and German 
peoples and marched into Asurestan against the Empire of the Aryans and against 
us; and a great frontal attack took place along the borders of Asurestan - in Mislk. 
(§ 7) And the emperor Gordian was killed, and we destroyed the Roman army; 
and the Romans proclaimed Philip emperor. 

24 Gricourt 1965: 319—26. 25 R1C iv 2 nos. 164; 201; 324; 652. 

26 Wiesehofer 1982: 445 and 1986a: 373-4. 

27 MacDermot 1954: 76-80; Gaje 1965: 343-88; Mackintosh 1973: 183-203; Gobi 1974; Herrmann 1980; 
Meyer 1990: 237-302; for an overview over the Sasanian rock reliefs see Vanden Berghe 1984; also 
Herrmann 2000: 35-45. 


5 Military confrontations 

a . ^Smmm^^m^^Mm^MM^^^ 

Fig. 6 Triumphal relief of Sapur I at Bisapur 

(Ghirshman, R. (1962) Iran. Parthians and Sassanians: fig. 197) 

(Photo: John Russel) 

According to the Res gestae divi Saporis the Roman emperor Gordian III 
opened war on the Persians immediately after Sapur I succeeded to the 
throne. 28 This statement contradicts the Western sources; these mention 
several Sasanian invasions into Roman territory, which provoked a Roman 
counter-attack. 29 In the spring of 243 the Roman army inflicted a crushing 
defeat on the Persians at Rhesaina, between Nisibis and Carrhae, about 
which we hear only in Ammianus Marcellinus. 30 In 244 another and this 
time decisive battle was fought at Mislk. According to the Sapur Inscrip- 
tion (SKZ) the Roman army was destroyed in this battle and the Roman 
emperor killed. The Persian account clearly links Gordian's death with the 
confrontation at Mislk and thereby differs completely from the Western 

On the defensive character of Sapur's first campaign against Rome see Sprengling 1940b: 360—71, esp. 

363—4; on the Eastetn campaign of this Roman emperor see Kettenhofen 1983: 151— 71 and Bleckmann 

1992: 57-76. 
2 « SHA Cord. z6.6; Synk. 681; Zon. xji.18. 
30 Amm. xxin. 5.17; it is unlikely that Sapur I was prepared to hand over Mesopotamia to the Romans 

without fighting. 

5 Sapur I at war with Rome 79 

sources. 31 These talk about Gordian Ill's victorious activities against the 
Persians and emphasise that the emperor's successor, the praetorian pre- 
fect Philip the Arab, was responsible for Gordian's death. 32 They do not 
mention the battle of Mislk. The Sapur Inscription alone does not suf- 
fice in order to question the entire Western tradition but as the account 
was composed very soon after the events it cannot be dismissed eas- 
ily. This is even more so if we consider that the Western authors did 
not have access to immediate eyewitness accounts but were based on 
older sources of the third century 33 There is no doubt that the battle 
of Mislk did in fact take place. 34 As it was typical in Eastern historiog- 
raphy to record only victorious events, the battle at Rhesaina does not 
appear. Western historiography shows the same tendency by on the one 
hand ignoring the battle of Mislk, but on the other mentioning the con- 
frontation at Rhesaina and referring to the successful Persian campaign of 
Gordian III. 

The Sapur Inscription was composed within thirty years of the events of 
244 and we may assume that it would have harmed Sapur's credibility to 
deliberately create a false account; this could not have been in the Sasanian 
ruler's interest. The rock relief at Blsapur also confirms that Gordian III 
met his death in the context of the Persian— Roman confrontations (fig. 6). 35 
The figure lying under the hoofs of Sapur's horse has been identified as 
Gordian III, and on the Sasanian triumphal reliefs a prostrate figure always 
symbolises a dead opponent. 36 

Admittedly, neither the Res gestae divi Saporis nor the representation on 
the relief at Blsapur reveal whether the emperor actually died on the battle- 
field or as the result of a wound he had incurred during the battle. Perhaps 
the inscription and the visual representation were consciously designed in 
an ambiguous way in order to insinuate that Sapur I was prepared to take 
responsibility for the emperor's death. Gordian's death was a triumph for 
the king, which he used in his imperial propaganda. Why would Sapur 

31 SHA Gord. 29-30; Eutr. ix.2— 3; Fest. 22; Zos. 1. 18-19; Oros. vii.19; on the element of propaganda 
in the Res gestae divi Saporis see Rubin 1998; 177—85. 

32 On the circumstances of Gordian's death see Oost 1958; 106-7; Winter 1988: 83—97; Bleckmann 
1992: 66-78; Schottky 1994: 232—5; Korner 2002: 77—92. 

33 York 1972: 320—32 and MacDonald 1981; 502—8. 

34 Maricq and Honigmann 1953; in— 22; at first, it was difficult to locate the place referred to in the Sapur 
Inscription; today it is fairly certain that Mislk, which was later called Peroz-Sapur (= 'victorious is 
Sapur') is al-Anbar of the Muslim period and situated on the left bank of the Euphrates as far north 
as Baghdad; for the date and outcome of the battle cf. also Gignoux 1991a: 9—22. 

35 Apart from the bibliographical references in n. 27 see also the monographs (i-vi) on Blsapur that 
have appeared in the series 'Iranische Denkmaler'. 

36 Cf. Gobi 1974: 12. 

8o 5 Military confrontations 

claim credit for this death if Gordian III had in fact been assassinated by 
Philip the Arab far away from Misik, as the majority of the Western sources 

The idea that Philip the Arab was responsible for Gordian Ill's death 
thus has to be dismissed. The Western sources share widespread prejudices 
against Philip the Arab and do not conceal these. It would appear that all 
versions intend to cover up the military defeat and to blame Philip the 
Arab for the events of the year 244. 37 Reporting on the fact that the new 
emperor concluded a humiliating peace treaty with Sapur I also served these 
intentions well (16). 

In the year 252 a new Roman-Persian War broke out. By 253 the Persians 
had made a deep advance into Roman territory and inflicted heavy losses 
on the Romans. Possibly reacting to a Roman counter-attack, they then 
withdrew without having taken possession of Roman territory. However, 
in the year 260 the Persians embarked on a new, major campaign about 
which we learn also from the Sapur Inscription.' 8 

The Sapur Inscription on the Kdba-i Zardust at Naqs-i Rustam (SKZ), 
§§ 18—22 The Parthian text 

(§ 18) During the third campaign, when we advanced against Carrhae and Edessa 
and besieged Carrhae and Edessa, the emperor Valerian marched against us, (§ 19) 
and there was with him . . . (§ 21) a force of 70,000 men. (§ 22) And on the other 
side of Carrhae and Edessa we fought a great battle with Valerian, and we captured 
the emperor Valerian with our own hands and the others, the praetorian prefect 
and senators and officials, all those who were the leaders of that force, and we made 
all of them prisoners and deported them to Persis. 

If we believe Sapur's words, the Roman emperor Valerian moved an army 
of 70,000 men against the king while the Sasanians were laying siege to 
the Mesopotamian cities of Carrhae and Edessa. In order to commemorate 
his victory in the most effective way, Sapur refers in detail to the make 
up and size of the Roman army. We learn that during the decisive battle 
near Edessa not only high Roman officials but also the emperor Valerian 
himself were captured by Sapur 'with his own hands'. We do not know what 
happened to Valerian afterwards. He must have died in captivity 39 The 
Sasanians celebrated this victory, which was one of their greatest successes 

37 Cf. York 1972: 320—1 and Pohlsander 1980: 464-5. 

3S On the course of events during this decade see also Tyler 1975. 

39 On the capture of Valerian see Kettenhofen 1982: 97—9; on the inconsistencies in our sources 

see Alfoldi 1937: 62—3 (= 1967: 149—50); Stolte 1971a: 385-6; 1971b; 157—62; Carson 1982: 461—5; 

Bleckmann 1992: 97—114; Huyse 1999: 10-14 ( vo1 - l ) and 82—4 (vol. n). 

5 Sapur I at war with Rome 


Fig. 7 Paris Cameo 
(Ghirshman, R. (1962) Iran. Parthians and Sassanians: fig. 195) 
(Photo: Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Cabinet des Medailles) 

over the Western opponent, as an unparalleled triumph, as they had Sapur's 
preceding victories. On the triumphal relief at Blsapur (fig. 6) Valerian is 
standing behind Sapur's horse. The Sasanian king grasps the emperor's 
wrist, which nicely illustrates Sapur's personal involvement in the capture 
and also highlights Valerian's submission. 

However, in contrast to Philip the Arab, who is represented on his knees 
before Sapur's horse and pleading for peace (16), Valerian appears in a 
standing position. Considering that Valerian most likely died in Sasanian 
captivity this contrast is rather surprising. Even at the height of his successes 
against Rome Sapur did not place the emperor Valerian on a level with those 
on whom he imposed tributary payments, such as Philip the Arab. The fact 
that Sapur refrained from depicting Valerian in a kneeling position suggests 
that the rulers of both empires could see each other as of equal rank during 
this early phase of their relations. 

The so-called Paris Cameo, on which a duel on horseback between the 
two rulers symbolises the Sasanian triumph, shows a striking representation 
of Valerian's capture (fig. 7). Valerian raises his sword against his enemy, 
whereas his opponent Sapur has not drawn his sword. Instead, he seizes the 

82 5 Military confrontations 

emperor's left hand. 40 Traditionally, 'grasping someone's wrist' symbolises 
that the person is taken prisoner. The gesture is the same as the one found on 
the Sasanian triumphal reliefs (fig. 6). It has been argued that the cameo rep- 
resents the events from a Roman perspective and that the image encourages 
the viewer to reinterpret the humiliating events by suggesting that Sapur 
achieved his victory not in battle but through a trick. 41 This interpretation is 
not convincing. In any case, the cameo and all other references to Valerian's 
capture reveal the deep impression this event left on contemporaries as well 
as later observers. 42 

The following two examples further illustrate the powerful motif of the 
victorious Sasanian ruler. Towards the end of the tenth century the Persian 
poet Firdausi began to collect popular legends and stories of pre-Islamic 
Iran and to incorporate these in a long epic poem. 43 He dedicated more 
than thirty years of his life to this work, the so-called Sahnama ('Book of 
kings'). As a consequence of his efforts the memory of old traditions and 
a distinctive pride in the pre-Islamic ancestors and heroes were preserved. 
No other work of Persian poetry has been illustrated as often as this book, 
which the German scholar Theodor Noldeke once appropriately called the 
'Iranian national epos'. 44 The miniatures of the Berlin manuscript of 1605, 
which were commissioned by Shah 'Abbas I, are particularly impressive. 45 
The artistic miniatures and their representations of rulers, royal scenes, 
duels of Iranian heroes as well as of demons, imaginative creatures or wild 
beasts express the lifestyle of the Persian nobility of this period. One of 
the miniatures alludes to the numerous confrontations between Persia and 
Rome, the great opponent in the West. 

In the year 363 the Roman emperor Julian lost his life during his advance 
against the Sasanian capital Ktesiphon (8), which forced the Roman army 
to retreat and to the conclusion of 'an extremely shameful peace' 46 (18). 

According to the illustration of the Sahnama the Persian king managed 
to capture the Roman emperor (fig. 8). 47 Admittedly, there is a confusion 
of the events that took place during the reign of Sapur II (309—79) with 
those that took place during the reign of Sapur I (240—72) because Valerian 

40 Gall 1990: 56-9 assumes that Sapur II and Jovian are represented. 4I See Gobi 1974: 15. 

42 Sykes 1921: 401, 'Few if any events in history have produced a greater moral effect than the capture 
of a Roman Emperor by the monarch of a young dynasty. The impression of the time must have 
been overwhelming, and the news must have resounded like a thunderclap throughout Europe and 

43 For the text see Mohl 1838—55; on the author and his work see also Shahbazi 1991. 

44 Cf. Noldeke 1892 and 1920. 45 Enderlein and Sundermann 1988. 

46 Agath. iv.26.7. 

47 Cf. Enderlein and Sundermann 1988: 199 (plate) and 191 (description and commentary); also 
Wiesehofer 1996: 226. 

5 Sapur I at war with Rome 


Fig. 8 Illustration of the Sahnama representing the victory of Sapur I against Valerian - 

Miniatures of the Berlin manuscript, 1605 
(Enderlein, V. and Sundermann, W. (eds.) (1988) Schahname. Das Persische 
Miniaturen und Texte der Berliner Handschrift von i6oy. p. 190) 

was the only Roman emperor who ever fell into Sasanian captivity. In the 
foreground we see the Roman emperor on horseback, represented as an 
elderly bearded man. His hands are tied up and his feet chained together. 
Sapur, who can be recognised by the honorific parasol, turns his head 
towards the Roman emperor as he leads him away in triumph. The Sasanian 
ruler is accompanied by his usual train, namely a page holding the parasol, 

84 3 Military confrontations 

a standard-bearer, a mounted soldier who leads the emperor's horse and 
another page walking in front of the king's horse. There is a striking detail 
at the lower edge of the image where two little trees grow out of the rock. 
Whereas the left one below Sapur grows tall and straight the one next to 
it on the right below the Roman emperor is bent and wilted. The growth 
of the two trees corresponds to the different positions of power of the two 
rulers at the time when the Persians defeated Rome in the year 260. This 
again corresponds to the victorious Sasanian soldiers depicted at the upper 
edge of the image; one of these is proclaiming the victory by blowing his 
trumpet. As a whole it reveals how the Sasanians saw themselves — and 
claimed to be perceived from the outside — in other words, how the events 
were interpreted from an 'Eastern perspective'. 

In the West the motif of the victorious Sasanian king, who had defeated 
the Roman emperor, was also transmitted and passed into European cultural 
memory. Although much later in time, in 1521 the German painter Hans 
Holbein captured Valerian's humiliation in a pen-and-ink drawing (fig. 9). 

Among other scenes from antiquity and representations of the virtues, 
the drawing complemented the programme of murals for the Great Council 
Chamber of Basle Town Hall. The setting is contemporary and the names 
of the main characters are given as inscriptions (Valerianus Imp. /Sapor Rex 
Persarum). Sapur uses the emperor as a stool to mount his horse. The scene 
probably served to remind councillors of the quick reversal of fate and to 
warn them not to abuse their power. 

6: Galerius defeats Narse in the year 298 

Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum 9.5-8 

(5) Spurred on by the example of his grandfather Sapur (I), the Persian king Narse 
attempted to conquer the East with a great force. (6) At the time, Diocletian, who 
tended to respond to any unrest with fear and pessimism and who was also afraid 
that he could share Valerian's fate, did not dare to oppose the king but instead sent 
him [Galerius] via Armenia while he himself halted in the East and waited to see 
how matters developed. (7) The former trapped the barbarians, who customarily 
went to war together with their whole family and were therefore impeded by 
their numbers and occupied with their luggage, 48 and overcame them without 
difficulties. After Galerius had put King Narse to flight he returned with plunder 
and immense booty and with this brought for himself 'pride', for Diocletian 'fear'. 
(8) For after this victory he became so arrogant that he even despised the title 

4 Several ancient authors agree that the Romans took a large number of members of the royal family 
as prisoners; cf. e.g. Eutrop. ix.25; Festus 14.5 and 25. 2—3; Oros. vn.25.11; only Malal. 12.6—24 (p. 308) 
mentions that the Persian queen Arsane was taken to Daphne near Antioch on the Orontes. 

6 Galerius defeats Narse in 2p8 


Fig. 9 The Capture of Valerian. Hans Holbein, Basle, 1521 

(Waetzhold, W. (1939) Hans Holbein der Jiingere, Werk unci Welt: fig. 68) 

(Basle, Offentliche Kunstsammlung; program of murals for the Great Council Chamber 

of Basle Town Hall; pen-and-ink drawing, 1521) 

'Caesar'. Whenever he read this title in letters addressed to him, a grim expression 
showed up on his face and he shouted in a terrible voice, 'For how long Caesar?' 49 

Lactantius 50 has no doubts about the political goals of the Sasanian 
king. Through military successes Narse (293—302) wanted to acquire new 

49 The fourth-century Christian author tries to portray Galerius and Diocletian, who persecuted 
the Christians, in a negative way. The reptoach against Diocletian of being a coward contradicts 
Diocletian's in fact very assettive course of action at the Eastetn frontier. Lactantius also hints at 
rivalties and tensions between Diocletian and his Caesar, which indeed existed during the later part 
of Diocletian's feign; cf. Kolb 1987a: 159—76. 

50 Chtistensen 1980; Cteed 1984. 

86 5 Military confrontations 

splendour for the Persians, who had been in a defensive position since the 
death of Sapur I. Narse aspired to take possession of the entire Near and 
Middle East and threatened many parts of the eastern half of the Roman 
Empire. Diocletian entrusted the Caesar of the East, Galerius, with the 
response to the Persian offensive of 296, which presented an immediate 
threat especially for Syria. There were initial setbacks but in the spring of 
298 a Roman offensive opened a new and decisive phase in this Persian 
War. 51 Near the Armenian city of Satala Galerius forced his way into the 
Persian camp and inflicted a crushing defeat on Narse. Lactantius attributes 
significance to the fact that the kings in the Near East customarily travelled 
together with their entire household and that this diminished the mobility 
of the Sasanian army considerably. It was wiped out completely. Galerius 
captured the royal family including his harem and many treasures. Narse 
himself managed to escape with difficulty. 

The Roman triumph over the Eastern opponent was celebrated and com- 
memorated on a wide scale. Apart from victory-titles such as Persicus max- 
imus II, Armeniacus maximus, Medicus maximus and Adiabenicus maximus, 
which were assumed by all Tetrarchs after 298, 52 coins conveyed the tri- 
umphal message. 53 This also applies to a bronze medallion of 298, which was 
issued for Galerius after his victory against the Sasanians in Siscia (fig. 10). 

The legend Victoria Persica leaves no doubt that the theme of the medal- 
lion is Galerius' triumph over Narse. 54 On the obverse the bust of Galerius is 
depicted, on the reverse the mounted Caesar is galloping over two unarmed 
figures. This detail alludes to the fact that Galerius attacked the Persian 
camp at Satala by surprise. In the foreground, a woman, a child and a 
man are visible, who are extending their arms, pleading with Galerius. All 
figures can be easily identified as Persians by their Phrygian caps. Appar- 
ently, Galerius intended to emphasise not only his military victory but also 
the capture of the king's family and harem. Narse's extreme humiliation 
reminds one of Valerian's defeat and capture by Sapur I. 55 

In 304 Galerius erected a triumphal arch in Thessaloniki (fig. 11). The 
dimensions of the monument and its ornamentation make this arch one of 

51 On Galerius 1 campaigns see Enfslin 1936: 102—10; 1942: 40—5; Bleckmann 1992: 135—55; on the 
chronology of events see also Barnes 1982: 54 and 63. 

52 CIL in 824 (= IIS 642), in 6979 (= IIS 660); on the victory-titles in the imperial titulature of the 
Tetrarchs see also Barnes 1976: 182— 6 and id. 1982: 27. 

53 Cf. e.g. RIC VI no. 23 a.b. 26; also Pink 1931: 3, 47, 50. fig. in 59-61. 

54 Garucci 1870: 112— 18; Dressel 1973: 306—7. 

55 Schonebeck 1937: 370 places the medallion within the traditional triumphal iconography; in this 
context see also Pond 1970. Laubscher 1975: 135 observes that the motif follows the typical repre- 
sentation of an emperor's triumph over barbarians; Garucci 1870: 113 suggests that the medallion 
explains the victory-title Persicus II because the military victory and the capture of the royal family 
can be seen as a 'two-fold 1 victory over Persia. 

6 Galerius defeats Narse in 2p8 


Fig. 10 Medallion of Galerius, 298 

(Cohen, H. (1955 2 ) Description historique des monnaies frapees sous ['empire romain 

communement appelees medailles imperiales VII/2: Galerius Valerius Maximianus nr. 204) 

(Medaillon de bronze) 

the greatest Roman triumphal arches. 5 The relief cycles on the monument 
depict and glorify the Persian campaign of the year 298. In succession, the 
following themes appear: Roman victorious battles, submission and sub- 
missiveness, prisoners being brought forward, the end of the war, peace 
negotiations, tribute, and again decisive battles and victory. In a large rep- 
resentation of a battle on the north-eastern side of the monument we see 
the Romans as victors over the Persians. Foot soldiers frame two mounted 
figures, the Roman emperor and the Sasanian 'King of kings'. The repre- 
sentation of the two rulers fighting each other on horseback 57 is part of the 
Eastern royal ideology, and as an iconographic motif the royal duel carries 
high symbolic meaning. In spite of his defeat, the enemy is not viewed as 
submissive but as equal in rank. 58 Although the arch of Galerius attests to 
Rome's military superiority over the Eastern opponent, 59 the fact that an 
Eastern iconographic motif was chosen and interpreted 60 implies that the 
Sasanian king was attributed equal status as a ruler. This is confirmed by 
the peace negotiations following the Roman triumph and by the specific 

56 Laubscher 1975 and Meyer 1980: 374—444. 57 Gall 1990. 5§ Chrysos 1976: 16. 

59 The central scene, which depicts the duel between Galerius and Narse, does not lack details which 

express this superiority; Narse e.g. sits on the skin of a panther, which points to his 'barbarian' 

character; the right front hoof of Galerius' horse strides across Narse's left leg. But this does not 

diminish the idea of the equal status of both rulers. 
'° Rodenwaldt 1940: 55—6 points to Galerius' deliberate decision to use the iconographic language of 

his enemy. He (56) suggests that the representation on the arch was a monumental response to 

Sapur's triumphal relief; in contrast see Laubscher 1975; 135. 

5 Military confrontations 

Fig. II The Arch of Galerius in Thessaloniki. Detail from the North-East 

(Laubscher, H.P. (1975) Der Reliefschmuck des Galeriusbogens in Thessaloniki: pi. 52) 

(DAI-Neg.-Nr. 1 D-DAI-ATH-Thessaloniki 257; by Hermann Wagner) 

agreements of the foedus of 298, which from a Persian perspective can be 
seen as acceptable (17). 

UNDER SAPUR II (3O9-79) 61 

7: Fighting during the reign of Constantius II (337-61) 

Sasanian invasions of Roman territory appear to have resumed before the 
reign of Constantine the Great ended. 2 The emperor's death on 22 May 
337 in the middle of his military preparations delayed the outbreak of the 

61 For a comprehensive survey of the sources related to Rome's relations with Sapur II see 

Dodgeon and Lieu 1991: 143—274. 
1 Scholars are not unanimous regarding the date of the first siege of Nisibis; see Matthews 1989a: 499 
n. 15 and Blockley 1989: 470; on the beginning of the war and its causes see Mosig-Walburg 2002: 

7 Fighting during Constantine's reign 89 

war 63 but in the following year his son Constantius II, who was entrusted 
with the rule over the East, led an enormous force against Sapur II in order 
to put a halt to the king's activities in Mesopotamia and Armenia/ 4 When 
in 338 hostilities opened, this was just the beginning of a series of military 
conflicts that took place during Constantius' reign. Festus, who seems to 
have been commissioned by the emperor Valens to write a survey of Roman 
history to the beginning of his reign, summarises the fighting in the East 
as follows: 65 

Festus 27 

(1) Constantius fought against the Persians with varying and indecisive outcome. 66 
Apart from the light skirmishes of those positioned along the 'limes' nine pitched 
battles took place; among these seven were fought by his generals, and he was 
himself present twice. In the battles at Sisara, at Singara and a second one at 
Singara, in which Constantius was present, at Sicgara (sic), also at Constantia, 
and when Amida was captured, our state was severely harmed under this emperor. 

(2) Nisibis was besieged three times but the enemy suffered even greater losses 
while maintaining the siege. In the battle of Narasara, 67 however, where Narse was 
killed, 68 we were victorious. (3) In the night battle at Eleia, near Satara, where 
Constantius himself was present, the outcome of all activities would have been 
balanced, if the emperor - although the terrain and night time were adverse - had 
personally addressed his soldiers, who were in a state of aggressive excitement, and 
had been able to stop them from opening battle at a most unfavourable moment. 69 

The excerpt is typical for the histories of the fourth century, which, because 
of the concise character of the narrative, are also labelled 'epitomes'. 70 While 
numerous other sources describe the course of individual battles in detail, 71 
Festus' sparse comments reveal important general characteristics of the 
fighting between 338 and 361. First, the large number of battles, second, 
the indecisive outcome of battles and third, the focus on strategically and 
economically important urban centres in Mesopotamia, such as Nisibis, 
Singara, Constantia or Amida. 

63 On Constantine the Great's plans for a Persian campaign see Fowden 1994: 146—70. 

64 Peeters 1931: 10-47. 6 * On the author and his work see Eadie 1967a. 

66 For a similar assessment see Eutr. x.10.1 

67 Narasara (Hileia) is located at the foot of the Djebel Sindjar, near the modern river Nahr Ghlran. 

68 Festus is the only author who mentions the death of the Sasanian prince in this battle; according 
to the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes {Chron. A.M. 5815 [p. 20, 21—6 ed. de Boor]) a brother of 
Sapur II named Narse died in the confrontations with Constantius. 

69 On this night battle at Singara see Mosig-Walburg 1999: 330—84, who dates this confrontation to 
the year 344; cf. also Portmann 1989: 1-18. 

70 See Den Boer 1972; Schlumberger 1974. 

71 For references with regard to the siege of Nisibis in the year 350, e.g., see Brandt 1998: 161-4. 

90 5 Military confrontations 

Although Sapur was victorious in the majority of the nine battles men- 
tioned by Festus, he apparently did not gain significant advantages as a 
result. The oriental limes, 72 which had been fortified during the reign 
of Diocletian, obviously represented a strong bulwark against the Sasanian 
attacks. The Persians besieged Nisibis three times in the years 337(8), 346(8) 
and 350 but were not able to capture the city 73 Sapur's luck in war did not 
turn until 359, when he took Amida 74 and soon after Singara. 75 According 
to the contemporary observer Ammianus Marcellinus, who himself barely 
escaped from Amida, the Chionites fought on the side of the Persians. 76 

At the beginning of the 350s this tribe of the Huns had caused unrest along 
the northern border of the Sasanian Empire, forcing Sapur II to withdraw 
from Mesopotamia. In fact, the Chionites' activities put the confrontation 
between Romans and Persians on hold for ten years, during which, however, 
peace was not officially restored. In 356, while the Sasanians were still 
engaged in fighting in the East, Constantius II sent ambassadors and a 
peace offer to Sapur II. Ammianus Marcellinus tells us about an exchange 
of letters in which both parties express their views. Sapur II demanded that 
the Romans return Armenia and Mesopotamia, 77 conditions that were 
unacceptable for Constantius II. Until the death of this Roman emperor 
the Sasanians remained a dangerous opponent along the Eastern frontier 
of the Roman Empire. 

8: Julian's Persian War (363) 

Julian's Persian War and his death in enemy territory have received 
much attention among both ancient and modern authors. 78 The excel- 
lent accounts by the eyewitness Ammianus Marcellinus 79 and by the fifth- 
century pagan author Zosimus, 80 who wrote in Greek, give us a detailed 
knowledge of the events. 

72 On the Roman Eastern frontier in late antiquity see Wagner 1985: 67-70. 

73 On the rivalry over this 'strongest fortress of the East' (orientis firmissimum claustrum, Amm. xxv.8.14) 
during the reign of Sapur II see Maroth 1979: 239—43; Lightfoot 1988: 105—25; on the date of the first 
siege see Burgess 1999: 7—17. 

74 Amm. xix.1-9; for a comprehensive treatment see Lightfoot 1989: 285—94. 

75 Amm. xx.6.1-9; see also Lenssen 1999; 40—50. 

76 Amm. xix.1.7 and xix.2.3; on the history of this tribe of the Huns see Schippmann 1990: 38—9. 

77 Amm. xvn. 5. 3— 5 and xxv.4.24; cf. also below pp. 182—4. 

78 On Julian's Persian campaign see Ridley 1973: 317-30; Blockley 1973: 54—5; Arce 1974: 340—3; Wirth 
1978: 455-507; Kaegi 1981a: 209—13. 

79 Matthews 1986: 549—64; Fornara 1991: 1— 15; Seager 1997; 253—68. 

80 On Zosimus and his work see Veh 1990; Paschoud 1971— 1989; Ridley 1984. 

8 Julian's Persian War 91 

Ammianus Marcellinus xxiv.y.i and 3- 6 

(1) The emperor therefore discussed a siege of Ktesiphon with his chief advisors 
and then followed the opinion of some well-informed men that this would be bold 
and inappropriate because not only was the city impregnable by its location but 
also because the king was expected to arrive any minute together with an enormous 
force . . . 

(3) But as usual he was greedy for more and did not respect the words of those 
who warned him; he accused the generals of advising him to let go of the Persian 
kingdom, which was already almost won, because of laziness and a desire for leisure. 
With the river on his left and untrustworthy guides leading the way he decided 
to march quickly into the interior. (4) And as if the fire had been lit with the fatal 
torch of Bellona 81 herself, he gave the instruction to burn all ships except for twelve 
smaller ones, which he decided would be useful for building bridges and therefore 
decided to transport on wagons. He thought that this decision had the advantage of 
not leaving a fleet behind for the enemy's use and in any case the advantage that (as 
it had been the case from the beginning of the campaign) almost 20,000 men would 
no longer be busy transporting and guiding those ships. 82 (5) When then everybody 
muttered, fearing for his life, and open truth revealed that the army, should it be 
forced to retreat because the climate was so dry and the mountains so high, would 
not be able to return to the waters, and when the defectors openly confessed under 
torture that they had told lies, the order was given to exert all energies to extinguish 
the flames. As the uncontrollable fire had already spread and had destroyed the 
majority of the ships, only the twelve ships, which had been set aside to be kept, 
could be saved unharmed. (6) In this way the fleet had been lost although there had 
been no need for this, but Julian, who trusted in his 'unified' army, because none 
of the soldiers were distracted by other duties, advanced with greater numbers into 
the interior, where the rich countryside furnished supplies in abundance. 

Zosimus 111.28.j-2p. 1 

(3) They [the Romans] passed a few villages and then arrived at Toummara, where 
they were all overcome by regret regarding the burnt ships. For the pack-animals, 
who had suffered hardship on the long journey through enemy territory, did not 
suffice for the provision of necessary supplies and the Persians had collected as 
much grain as they could and had hidden this away in the most fortified places 
so that they could prevent the Roman army from using it. Although they were 
in this situation, the Romans, when Persian units appeared and they fought a 
battle, defeated them easily and many Persians died. (4) In the late morning of 
the following day, however, the Persians unexpectedly attacked the rear guard of 

1 Bellona is the wild and cruel goddess of war, who in later times was often identified with the 
Cappadocian goddess Ma; cf. Amm. xxxi.13.1 where the goddess intervenes when the Romans are 
defeated by the Goths at Adrianople (ad 378). 

2 The Byzantine historian Zonaras (xxxi.13) claims that two defectors persuaded Julian to burn the 
Roman fleet; Lib. Or. 18.263 ana Zos. ill. 26.4 also mention the small number of the remaining ships. 

92 5 Military confrontations 

the Roman army with their combined forces. Although the soldiers were at first 
confused and in disorder because the attack had come so suddenly, they took heart 
and counter-attacked when the emperor, as he used to do, went through their 
ranks and encouraged them. 

(29.1) When it came to a general hand-to-hand combat, he joined the comman- 
ders and captains and mixed with the crowd but was then struck by a sword in the 
decisive moment of the battle and taken to his tent on a shield. He lived until almost 
midnight and then died, close to having brought on the downfall of Persian rule. 

On 5 March 363 Julian left Syrian Antioch with a large force in order to 
invade Persia. Whereas parts of his army were instructed to attack the 
Sasanians from the North via Nisibis, Julian crossed the Euphrates at 
Nikephorion and marched downstream along the left bank of the river. 
He was headed for the Sasanian capital Ktesiphon. Although the Romans 
made good progress on their march south, which lasted over three months, 
they obviously were afraid to attack Ktesiphon. 83 Against the advice of his 
generals, Julian decided to cross the river Tigris in order to gain control 
over important roads in the interior and thereby to improve his strategic 
position. Ammianus, who in general depicts Julian in a very positive light, 
criticises the emperor sharply 84 In particular Julian's decision to destroy his 
own fleet that was in operation on the Tigris was completely inappropriate 
from a strategic point of view because, as the author describes, this cut 
the Romans off from their own fresh supplies. Zosimus also points to the 
disastrous consequences of Julian's decision and emphasises the problems 
of provisions, which were exacerbated by the Persian practice of collecting 
and hiding produce. In this situation the two armies clashed at Samarra; 85 
the Romans defeated the Persians but Julian was wounded and died on 
26 June 363. With regard to the emperor's death, other sources diverge 
from these accounts. 86 Whereas the pagan author and admirer of Julian, 
Zosimus, describes a courageous emperor who was struck down in battle 
by the enemy, other sources claim that he was the victim of an intrigue. 

A Sasanian relief at Taq-i Bustan shows the dead emperor and may 
indicate that he was killed in battle by his enemy (fig. 12). s? In contrast to 
the early Sasanian rulers, who had their rock reliefs carved in the vicinity 
of Persepolis, from Ardasir II (379—83) onwards the kings chose the massive 
rock at Taq-i Bustan (map 5), which rises into a steep summit and is located 
close to Kermanshah along the road to the Sasanian capital Ktesiphon, as 
the place where they could praise their own deeds. 

83 Austin 1972: 301-9. 84 See Smith 1999: 85—104. 8 * Herzfeld 1948. 

1 On Julian's death see Btittner-Wobst 1978: 24—47; Conduche 1978: 355—80. 
87 See Trtimpelmann 1975: 107— 11; Sellheim 1994: 354—66. 

8 Julian's Persian War 


Fig. 12 Rock relief of Ardaslr II at Taq-i Bustan 

(Ghirshman, R. (1962) Iran. Parthians and Sassanians: fig. 233) 

(Photo: Ph. Claude Deffarge-Rapho) 

The relief represents the investiture of Ardaslr II, who is depicted between 
the highest Zoroastrian deity Ahura Mazda and the god Mithras (charac- 
teristically crowned by the rays of the sun). 88 The power of the image 
is enhanced by the figure lying at the feet of Ahura Mazda and the king, 
undoubtedly representing a slain enemy Although the armour is not recog- 
nisable, it seems safe to identify the figure as a Roman ruler; as the relief is 
close in time to the events of the year 363, it is tempting to assume that it 
is the emperor Julian. 89 This, however, remains speculative. 90 

Soon after the events of June 363 legends formed around the death of the 
controversial emperor. 91 A plethora of ancient and medieval sources, both 
pagan and Christian, describe and judge Julian in many different ways. 92 

88 On the Vasanian rock reliefs and the significance of Ahura Mazda within the Zoroastrian religion 
see the references on pp. 233-36 with fig. 17. 

89 Ghirshman 1962: 190— 1 comes to the same conclusion. 

90 Azarpay 1982: 181-7; Nicholson 1983: 177—8. 

91 See Brandt 1998: 180—5 on Libanius' obituary for Julian {Or. 17). 

92 For a compilation of these testimonies see Demandt 1989: 106—9. 

94 5 Military confrontations 

Julian's death ended the Persian War, which had started in the year 338. 
The Roman army proclaimed a man from their own ranks the new emperor, 
Jovian, who quickly agreed to a peace with Sapur II (18). As Jovian was 
in a fairly hopeless situation, he had no choice but to accept considerable 
territorial losses, which turned this peace treaty into a humiliating experi- 
ence for Rome. In any case, the new emperor was primarily interested in 
leading his army safely back onto Roman territory 93 The 'Armenian prob- 
lem' shattered any hope which the Romans may have entertained of a long 
peace on the Eastern frontier; however, in the fifth century this conflict was 
eventually 'resolved' between the two powers. 


9: Arcadius (383-408) and Yazdgard I (399-420) 

Procopius, De bello Persico 1.2.6-10 94 

(6) When Arcadius, although he was in general not very shrewd, was in this 
troublesome situation, 95 he devised a plan that guaranteed him both his son and 
his rule without problems, either after conversations with certain experts (and 
there tend to be many of such royal advisors) or after having had some divine 
inspiration. (7) For when he wrote down his will he determined that his son 
would be the successor to his rule but he designated the Persian king Yazdgard 
(I) to be his guardian; 96 in this will he urged the king many times to preserve the 
empire for Theodosius with all his energy and foresight. (8) Having taken care of 
the succession and also of his domestic affairs in this way Arcadius died. When 
the Persian king Yazdgard (I) saw this will, which was indeed delivered to him, he 
(who was already very famous for his extraordinary greatness of mind) displayed a 
virtue both amazing and praiseworthy. (9) For he did not neglect Arcadius' wishes 
in any way but established and always kept a profound peace with the Romans 
and preserved the empire for Theodosius. (10) Immediately, he wrote a letter to 
the Roman Senate saying that he was not refusing to become the guardian of the 

93 Ehling 1996: 186-91. 

94 For an English translation of the preceding paragraphs see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 32—3. 

95 Arcadius knew that his death was imminent and his only son, Theodosius, was only seven years 
old. Proc. BP 1. 2. 1— 5 describes the emperor's concern regarding both the empire and his son. In this 
context the author points to the particular threat from Persia and warns that the barbarians could 
take advantage of the young age of the new Roman emperor and inflict great harm on the Romans. 

9 Scholars have interpreted the term epitropos that Procopius uses in this passage in different ways. 
Blockley 1992: 197 n. 36 sums up, 'While many see Yezdgerd's "guardianship" as no more than a 
diplomatic nicety. . . I accept Pieler's view that it was an extension of diplomatic jraternitas into 
executive force via the legacy; cf Pieler 1972: 411—33. 

p Arcadius and Yazdgard I 95 

emperor Theodosius but that he was threatening war against anyone who would 
attempt to form a plot against him. 

Agathias iv.26.3-7 

(3) After that Yazdgard (I), the son of Sapur (II) took over rule in Persia, a man who 
was held in high esteem by the Romans and much talked about. For they say that 
when the emperor Arcadius was on the point of death and making arrangements 
regarding his will, as is only human, he made the king guardian and protector of 
his son Theodosius and of the entire Roman state. (4) For a long time this story 
has been widely told among us, handed down from generation to generation, and 
up to the present day it is circulated among both the elite and the common people. 
However, I have not found this in any document or in any of the historians, and 
have not even found it in those who give an account of Arcadius' death, with the 
only exception of the works of the rhetorical writer Procopius. It is not surprising, I 
think, that he, who was very learned and had read practically every historical work 
there is, includes a tale that someone else had written up earlier but that I (who 
knows very little if anything at all) have not come across it anywhere. (5) But I find 
it very surprising that in his account of this story he does not simply state what 
was known but that he praises Arcadius and glorifies him as having made such a 
wonderful decision. For he says that in general Arcadius was not that shrewd but 
that in this particular situation he proved himself to be sound of mind and to have 
greatest foresight. (6) It seems to me that whoever admires this does not judge and 
express praise on the basis of the decision as such but in light of what happened 
later. For how could it have been right to hand over what is dearest to you to a 
foreigner, to a barbarian, to the ruler of the most hostile people, to someone whose 
attitude towards trust and justice was unknown and to someone who on top of 
everything else erred and held strange opinions in religious matters? 97 (7) If the 
small child did not take any harm but his rule remained safe and sound because 
it was protected by his guardian (this was the rule of someone who had not yet 
been weaned off the breast), one should rather praise the king for his courtesy 
rather than Arcadius for his plan. However, everybody may form his opinion on 
this matter depending on his personal views and criteria. 

To our surprise, Arcadius' decision to approach the Sasanian king for help 
in preserving his son's rule is not attested in detail before the sixth century. 
There are no references in the contemporary authors, although such an 
intimate cooperation between the Byzantine emperor and his Persian arch- 
enemy must have raised great attention at the time. It is possible that 
in retrospect an arrangement of this kind seemed unacceptable when the 
relations between East and West deteriorated once more during the later 
part of Yazdgard Is reign (399—421). However, when the two sides grew 
closer again afterwards, this episode could be revived and found its way into 

97 The Sasanian kings were followers of the Zoroastrian religion (30). 

96 5 Military confrontations 

the literature of a later period. 98 Both Procopius and Agathias tell us that the 
Roman emperor Arcadius asked Yazdgard I to assume the guardianship for 
his infant son Theodosius, an episode which certainly underlines the good 
relations between Byzantium and Persia during this period." In spite of 
his usual negative attitude towards the Roman emperor, Procopius praises 
Arcadius for his decision. The historian also expresses his admiration for 
Yazdgard I, who, from a Roman perspective, had already displayed his 
greatness of mind when he allowed the Christians in Persia to practise 
their religion, a gesture which earned him the title 'the infidel' in Arab 
and Persian historiography 100 Procopius views Yazdgard Fs willingness to 
grant Arcadius his wish and to maintain peace with the Romans during 
his reign as the means by which Theodosius acceded to the throne. The 
chronicle of Theophanes, which was composed between 810/11 and 814, 
further informs us that Yazdgard sent the Persian eunuch Antiochus to 
the court at Constantinople to make sure that Theodosius would indeed 
succeed to the throne. 101 

Agathias comments on the events very differently. It looks as if he ques- 
tions the authenticity of the arrangements of Arcadius' written testament 
as Procopius describes them, primarily because, as he points out, they are 
not confirmed by any other source. In any case, he criticises Procopius for 
praising Arcadius. 102 Agathias is convinced that the emperor's plan was not 
wise at all even if Yazdgard in the end did not attempt to attack Theodo- 
sius' sovereignty. Regardless of any verdict on Arcadius, in fact no military 
conflicts between Rome and Persia took place during the entire reign of 
Yazdgard I. 

In the course of relations between the two rival powers, Procopius' 
episode is not unique (12.). Towards the end of the sixth century we observe 
a father— son relationship between the Roman emperor Maurice and the 
Sasanian king Xusro II Parvez; in this case Byzantium supported the Per- 
sian king in his attempts to secure his throne against the rebel Bahram 
VI Cobln. 103 Here the fictitious family relation between the emperor and 

98 Blockley 1992: 51. 

99 Holum 1982: 83 nn. 18—19; Greatrex 1998: 13; for a detailed analysis of the relationship between the 
two rulers see Blockley 1992: 46—59. 

100 Cameron 1969—70: 150; cf. also the commentary on 32. 

101 Theoph. Chron. A.M. 5900 (p. 79, ed. de Boor); on the important role the Persian Antiochus 
played in the diplomatic relations between the two powers at the beginning of the fifth century see 
Greatrex and Bardill 1996: 171—97; for an English translation of the passage see Greatrex and Lieu 
2002: 33. 

102 Cf. Cameron 1969-70: 149. io3 Winter 1989a: 79— 88. 

io Persians and the Hephthalites 97 

the 'King of kings' was no longer a moral category but a forceful political 

10: Persian confrontations with the Hephthalites 

Procopius, De bello Persico 1.3.1-5 

(1) Later the Persian king Peroz fought a war concerning borderland with the nation 
of the Hephthalite Huns, who are called 'White Huns'; he gathered a remarkable 
force and marched against them. (2) The Hephthalites are Huns in fact as much 
as they are in name but they do not mix in any way with those Huns that we know 
because they neither occupy land that is adjacent to theirs nor do they even live 
very close to them; instead they live straight north of Persia where they have a city 
named Gorgo that is situated on Persian borderland and where the two frequently 
fight each other over borderland. (3) For they are not nomads like the other Hunnic 
peoples but have been settling on good land for a long time. (4) For this reason 
they have never invaded Roman territory, except together with the Median army. 
They are the only ones among the Huns 104 who have a white skin colour and who 
are not unpleasant to look at. (5) Neither is their way of life in any way similar 
to that of the others nor do they lead a savage life like the others do, but they are 
ruled by one king, have a lawful constitution and deal with one another and their 
neighbours on the basis of what is right and just, in no way less than the Romans 
and Persians. 105 

Procopius touches upon the problems faced by the Persians on their North- 
eastern frontier during the fifth century. The Byzantine historian uses the 
long peace between Rome and Persia in order to digress; he focuses on the 
events in the Persian East and gives us an elaborate account of the Sasanian 
confrontations with their most important enemy during the fifth century, 
the Hephthalites. 106 Whereas during the third and fourth centuries the 
Sasanians had been threatened primarily by the Empire of the Kusan, 107 
from the fifth century onwards they had to deal with more and more 
nomadic tribes, whose individual history and ethnic identity are enigmatic 
and discussed controversially among scholars. 108 Among these tribes were 
the Hephthalites, who were called 'White Huns' and who during the fifth 

104 The origins of this nomadic people from central Asia are not entirely known; while at some point 
during the early years of the common era some Hunnic tribes advanced into the Caucasus region, 
several state formations such as that of the Hephthalites emerged from an Eastern branch of the 
Huns; Maenchen-Helfen 1973; Harmatta 1997: 159—73; Heather 1998: 487-518. 

105 According to Veh 1970: 459 Procopius' account of the looks, way of life and political order of the 
Hephthalites is trustworthy and based on good sources. 

106 On the origins of this tribe see Enoki 1955: 231-7; Bivar 1983a: 181— 231; Thompson 1996; Frye 1984: 
346—51; Lippold 1974: 127—37; Litvinsky 1996; 135—62. 

107 Dani et al. 1996: 163—83. Io8 On the history of Eastern Iran see Alram 1996: 119—40. 

98 5 Military confrontations 

century founded a powerful empire in so-called 'Scythian Mesopotamia', 
between Amu-Darja and Syr-Darja. Procopius points to the non-nomadic 
lifestyle of the Hephthalites and their political organisation, which distin- 
guished them from the other Hunnic tribes. During the fifth century the 
Hephthalites were the most dangerous enemy of the Sasanians and forced 
them to exert all their energies in the East. 

Although both Bahram V Gor and Yazdgard II had to deal repeat- 
edly with the Hephthalites, they eventually succeeded in fending off their 
attacks. 109 In the course of these confrontations Yazdgard II suffered numer- 
ous defeats between 443 and 450. When after his death in 457 his sons 
contended for the Persian throne, one of them, Peroz secured his rule 
with the help of the Hephthalites. However, this alliance did not last very 
long. Almost the entire reign of Peroz was also characterised by fighting 
with the Hephthalites and by crushing Sasanian defeats. 110 A first phase of 
confrontations was ended around 469 by a humiliating peace. The Hep- 
hthalites held Peroz' son Kavadh hostage until the Persians offered a high 
ransom. According to the chronicle of Josua the Stylite the Roman emperor 
was among those who supported the Persians by contributing money to 
the war against the Hephthalites. 111 

At the beginning of the 480s Peroz took up fighting against the Hep- 
hthalites in breech of the existing agreements; in 484 the Sasanians suf- 
fered yet another crushing defeat and Peroz met his death in what is now 
Afghanistan. 112 As a consequence of this military catastrophe the Heph- 
thalites advanced into Eastern Iran, demanded annual tributary payments 
and intervened repeatedly in the internal affairs of the Persian Empire. 

11: The Sasanian monarchy loses and regains power 

Procopius, De bello Persico i-S-i—3 

(1) As time went on, Kavadh ruled by force more than before and he introduced 
innovations into the constitution; among these there was a law which he drafted 
and according to which the Persians were to have intercourse with their women 
on a communal basis - a measure that the majority of the population very much 
disliked. Because of this they revolted against him, removed him from the throne 
and held him as a chained prisoner. (2) They chose as their king Balas, the brother 
of Peroz, because, as I mentioned, no male offspring of Peroz was left any more, 

109 On these confrontations see Frye 1983a: 143-52 and Luther 1997: 110-24. 

110 Proc. BP 1.3.8— 1.4.35. 

111 Ios. Styl. 9-10; for English translations of this passage see Watt 2000 and Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 


112 Ios. Styl. 11; on the background and course of events see Luther 1997: 116—24. 

ii The Sasanian monarchy 99 

and because the Persians are not allowed to appoint a man as king who is by birth 
a common man, unless it is the case that the royal family is totally extinct. (3) As 
soon as Balas had assumed the royal title he gathered the nobility and held council 
regarding Kavadh (I)'s fate. . . " 3 

Political changes and his own socio-political initiatives provoked Kavadh Fs 
downfall. In an attempt to secure his position against the powerful nobility 
the king grew closer with a man named Mazdak. The so-called 'Mazdakite 
revolt', which derives its name from this figure, features primarily in the 
Eastern sources. " 4 Many scholars have speculated about and discussed with- 
out agreement the possible religious, social and political origins as well as 
goals of this movement." 5 According to Tabari's account Kavadh I joined 
the Mazdakites after ten years of his reign. These, as the author sets out, 
postulated that all men shared wealth and property equally and that the 
rich, who possessed too much money, too many women and too much 
property, should have this surplus taken away from them and instead it 
should be given to the poor. The king tolerated the severe political unrest 
and actual raids that took place in consequence of this doctrine. In turn 
the nobility and clergy decided to depose Kavadh and to imprison him. 
Procopius confirms Tabari's words. The nobility replaced Kavadh, who 
was taken to a 'place of oblivion'," 6 with his brother, Gamasp (497—9), 
who became the new Sasanian ruler." 7 The sources describe in detail how 
Kavadh managed to escape from his prison in Huzistan and found refuge 
with the Hephthalites. With their help he returned and regained the royal 
throne." 8 Procopius claims that at this point Kavadh renewed the Sasanian 
monarchy and henceforth reigned with a firm hand." 9 The political unrest 
caused by the Mazdakite revolt broke the power of the traditional nobility 
once and for all. 120 Towards the end of Kavadh's reign his son Xusro and 
the Zoroastrian clergy finally persuaded the king to break with Mazdak and 
to crush the Mazdakite movement. During the reign of Kavadh's succes- 
sor Xusro I Anosarvan (531-79) both the position of the monarch and the 
Sasanian state as a whole were restored and reached new power. 121 

113 Procopius mistakes Kavadh's paternal uncle Balas, whose reign (484—8) he dates too late, for Gamasp 
(497—9), whom he apparently does not know. 

114 C£ above all Tabari's detailed account (tr. Noldeke 140—7 and 162—3; Bosworth 131— 9 [885—888] and 
155—6 [897]); see also the references in Wiesehofer 2001: 208—9 ana " 294—8. 

115 Klima 1957; Shaki 1978: 289—306; Gaube 1982: 111-22; Yarshater 1983a: 991—1024; Crone 1991: 21—42. 

116 Proc. BP 1.5.7. 

117 Tabarl, tr. Noldeke 140— 1 and 143—4; Bosworth 132 (885) and 135 (887). 

118 Ibid. 144-5. " 9 Proc. BP 1.6.18. 

120 On the relationship between monarch and nobility during the late Sasanian era see Wiesehofer 
2001: 165—91. 

121 On Xusro's reforms see the references given above, p. 39 n. 112. 

ioo 5 Military confrontations 


12: The first Sasanian-Byzantine War (502-32) 

The first major Byzantine— Sasanian confrontation of the sixth century 
began in the late summer of 502 when the Persian king Kavadh I invaded 
the Roman possessions in Armenia. 122 Although initially the Persians were 
rather successful and captured the important city of Amida (503) , 123 they 
found themselves more and more in a defensive position. 124 

Kavadh I had no choice but to seek peace negotiations, which in the year 
506 led to a first, temporary truce. 125 This, however, did not end the existing 
tensions, particularly since the Arab allies on both sides continued to raid 
enemy territory (2.5). I2 It is also remarkable that while the peace negotia- 
tions were still going on the Romans introduced measures to improve the 
protection of their borders, which had to provoke Sasanian suspicion. The 
following two passages talk about the most significant Roman initiative in 
this context, namely the fortification of Dara, which during the course of 
the sixth century became one of the most important and most contested 
border cities in Mesopotamia. 

Joshua the Stylite 90 (309. 12-310. 3) 

The year 817 (= ad 505/6). The leaders of the Roman army informed the emperor 
that the troops were being greatly harmed because they did not possess a city 
located on the frontier. For whenever the Romans made a sortie from Telia or from 
Amida to make a sweep against raiders in the 'Arab, they were in constant fear 
wherever they camped of the deceit of enemies. And, again, if they happened to 
encounter forces which outnumbered them, and they determined to retreat, they 
had to endure great fatigue since there was no city nearby in which to seek shelter. 
And because of this the emperor commanded that a wall should be built for the 
town of Dara which is situated on the frontier. Stonemasons were selected from 
all Syria, and they went down there and were building it. The Persians, however, 
were making sorties from Nisibis and disrupting their work. On account of this 

122 For a detailed account of the outbteak of this war and the course of events until 506 see Ios. Styl. 
48—101; for a commentary and analysis see Luther 1997: 177-203; Watt 2000: 50-119. 

123 For an account of the siege of Amida see Proc. BP 1.7.5—35; c ^- a ^ so Theoph. Chron. 5996—7 (for an 
English translation see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 67—8), Ios. Styl. 50-3 and the Syrian chronicle of 
Zacharias Rhetor (vii.3— 5; for an English translation of 4— 5 see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 68). 

124 On the course of events see Greatrex 1998. 

125 Ios. Styl. 71—3; 75-7; 80-2; cf. also Luther 1997: 206-7 an d Greatrex 1998: 114— 15. 

12 The Romans as well as the Persians punished the Arab tribes for these activities, which amounted 
to a breach of the recent truce; cf. Ios. Styl. 88. 

12 The first Sasanian— Byzantine War 101 

Pharazman left Edessa and went down and settled in Amida, and he would go out 
to those who were building and assist them. 

Marcellinus Comes a. 518 

Dara, a city of this kind, founded in Mesopotamia. 

Dara, which is a certain estate situated 60 miles south of the city of Amida and 
15 miles west of the town of Nisibis paid its proceeds to the church of Amida. 
The emperor Anastasius thus bought the buildings of this modest village for a 
fixed sum, 12 - 7 with the intention of founding a city there, and he immediately 
sent first class craftsmen there and gave instructions for it to be built. He then 
put Calliopius, 128 later patrician of the city of Antioch, in charge of this project. 
Undoubtedly with admirable perception this man marked out a hill adjacent to a 
plain by creating a furrow with a light hoe - in order to place the foundations - 
and on all sides he guarded it with the strongest walls, which were built up to this 
zone. He also included a river, which is called Cordissus 129 from the estate next to 
which it originates and winds its way murmuring along; at the fifth milestone it 
divides the same hill and the new city, gliding forward and forming a mouth on 
both sides. 130 After it had been decorated with further public buildings, he allowed 
the city to keep the previous name of the village. 131 The huge watch-tower of this 
city, which was constructed in an elevated location and was a continuation of the 
walls, was a tower called the 'Herculean tower' and looked up to Nisibis to the east 
and back to Amida to the north of it. 132 

The Latin author Marcellinus Comes (Count Marcellinus), 133 who among 
other works wrote a chronicle covering the years 379 to 518, mentions the 
proximity of Dara to the two most important cities Amida and Nisibis 
and thus points to the special geographical location of the city within the 
border area between the Byzantine and the Sasanian Empires, which must 
have been crucial for the emperor's decision to choose Dara in particular as 
the location for a powerful fortification. Dara's city walls and watch towers, 
which are still visible today (figs. 13—14), attest to the impressive strength 
of this late antique fortification. 134 

127 As the Church of Amida was the official owner, the emperor had to purchase the village Dara from 

128 On Calliopius see Croke 1984: 86-8. 

129 The easy access to water supply must have been a further reason for choosing this particular place 
for the fortification. 

130 On the river Cordissus and its position within the city see the detailed account given by Proc. Aed. 
11. 2. 1-7; BP viii. 7. 7; see also Whitby 1986a: 739 and Croke 1984: 84. 

131 The city was in fact renamed Anastasiopolis; cf. Croke 1984: 84—5. 

132 On this tower see Croke 1984: 85—6; John of Ephesus mentions it in his account of the siege of 
Dara by Xusro I in the year 573. 

133 On the author and his work see Croke 2001; for an English translation and commentary see Croke 


134 See in particular Croke and Crow 1983: 143—59; Isaac 1992: 254—5; Gregory 1997: C6. 


5 Military confrontations 

. h ■ — . &■ 

Figs. 13—14 Dara: City wall and watch tower 
(Photos: M. Stanke) 

12 The first Sasanian— Byzantine War 103 

According to the Syrian author Joshua the Stylite, Anastasius had good 
reasons for fortifying the border in Northern Mesopotamia at the beginning 
of the sixth century Indeed, from a Roman perspective the lack of com- 
parable fortified cities that could provide protection in times of crisis had 
proven a great disadvantage during the previous military confrontations, in 
particular as the Persians had such a military base, namely Nisibis. 135 Not 
only at Dara, but also at Edessa, Batnai and Amida, Anastasius initiated 
building activities that served the fortification of these cities. Likewise, he 
continued to fortify Theodosio(u)polis. I3fi In late antiquity, border cities 
and border fortresses such as Amida, Martyropolis, Bezabde, Singara, Nis- 
ibis or Constantina were supposed to carry the main burden of defending 
the empire in Mesopotamia. 137 

As a whole, the activities of the Romans described above were also respon- 
sible for the fact that tensions on both sides continued in spite of serious 
diplomatic attempts to end the military conflict. Above all, the gigantic 
fortification of Dara, which was located in immediate proximity to the 
border, caused concern among the Persians, who, as Joshua the Stylite sug- 
gests, made attempts to stop the project but eventually had to accept it as 
a fait accompli. Numerous sources indicate the haste in which the works 
were carried out in order to prevent the Sasanians, who at the beginning 
of the sixth century were still engaged in fending off the Huns and other 
nomadic tribes, from intervening in the process. 13 From a Roman per- 
spective, building a fortress in the immediate vicinity of the shared border 
was a strategic necessity. Anastasius must have been aware of the fact that 
the fortification of Dara was 'illegal' because according to the treaty of 441 
neither side was allowed to build fortresses close to the border. 139 Procopius 
states that for a while the Persians were placated by promises and monetary 
gifts. 140 

It is not surprising that from this point onwards Dara, which was now 
called Anastasiopolis, became one of the most contested cities in northern 
Mesopotamia. 141 During the reign of the emperor Justinian the city was 
further fortified and changed its name once more to become 'Iustiniana 
Nea'. The great peace treaties of the sixth century (2.0) also feature Dara 
as an important point in the negotiations. Although on every occasion the 

135 Cf. Luther 1997: 210. I3<5 Proc. BP 1.10.18— 19. I37 Wagner 1985: 67— 70. 

138 Cf. e.g. Proc. BP 1.10.15; Aed. 11. 1.4— 5 and see further references in Luther 1997: 201—2. 

139 Proc. BP 1.2.15 and 10.16; Aed. 11.1.5. I4 ° Proc. BP 1.10.17. 

141 For a compilation of the sources concerning the important battle of Dara that took place in June 
530 see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 88—91. After a long siege the city fell to the Persians in the autumn 
of 573; see ibid.: 147-9 and Turtledove 1977: 205— n. 

104 3 Military confrontations 

Romans were able to reject the Persian request to raze Dara to the ground, 142 
they had to concede that a military governor would no longer be based at 
Dara. 143 The ruins of Dara, which serve as wonderful illustrations of the 
ancient descriptions of the city, in particular those by Procopius, attest to 
the tremendous — also financial — efforts the Romans made in order to 
protect the Eastern frontier against their opponent. 144 

In spite of their early successes, the first Sasanian— Byzantine War of 
the sixth century saw the Persians struggling to defend their empire. In 
light of the continued attacks of nomadic tribes along the north-eastern 
frontier Kavadh I, who also faced internal pressures, increasingly feared a 
continuation of the war with Byzantium. As part of an attempt to secure 
the succession for his son Xusro, in 522 the king sought an agreement with 
the Romans about which we read in Procopius. 

Procopius, De Bello Persico i.n.6—11 and 29- 30 145 

(6) It seemed best to him to reconcile with the Romans and to put an end to 
the war and the reasons for war, on condition that Xusro became the adopted 
son of the emperor Justin because this would be the only way to guarantee his 
rule. He therefore sent envoys and a letter concerning this matter to the emperor 
Justin in Byzantium. The letter read as follows: (7) 'We have suffered injustice 
from the Romans, this much you know yourself, but I have decided to abandon 
all accusations against you altogether because I have come to the conclusion that 
those men are the greatest victors who although they have justice on their side 
willingly come off second-best and give in to their friends. (8) However, I am 
asking you for a favour in return for this, which would establish close kinship 
and as a natural consequence good-will not only between the two of us but also 
between all subjects on both sides and which thereby should allow the blessings 
of peace to flourish. (9) I ask therefore that you make my son Xusro, who will be 
the successor to my throne, your adopted son.' (10) When this letter was brought 
to the emperor Justin he himself was filled with great joy and also Justinian, the 
emperor's nephew, who was indeed expected to receive the throne from him.' 46 
(11) And in haste they did everything to create a formal document of adoption, as 
is the law among the Romans, and they would have done so if Proclus had not 
stopped them. . . 

142 Proc. BP 1.22; Men. Prot. frg. n. I43 Proc. BP i. 22.16; Men. Prot. frg. 11. 

144 On the ruins of Dara see Preusser 1911 (1984), figs. 53—61. 

145 For an English translation of 1. 11. 23— 30 see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 81. 

14 Justin had appointed his nephew Justinian comes (519), magister militum pracscntalis (520) and consul 
(521). When the emperor was terminally ill he had Justinian proclaimed Augustus on 1 April 527. 
After the death of his uncle Justinian's rule was not questioned and he ascended the throne on 
1 August 527. 

12 The first Sasanian— Byzantine War 105 

(29) . . . But when they [the Romans] claimed that Xusro's adoption had to 
take place as was proper for a barbarian, 147 the Persians thought that this was 
not tolerable. (30) Both sides separated and went home, and Xusro, who had not 
accomplished anything, went to his father, very bitter about what had happened 
and vowing that he would punish the Romans for having insulted him. 

Procopius bases his account of the diplomatic negotiations at the Sasanian— 
Byzantine frontier on reliable sources and probably had direct access to 
the correspondence between the envoys. 148 Just as at the beginning of the 
fifth century the Roman emperor Arcadius had asked the Sasanian king 
Yazdgard I to assume guardianship for his son Theodosius (9), in a similar 
way, Kavadh I now turned to the Byzantine emperor, urging him to adopt 
his son Xusro so that his rule would be guaranteed. By his will, Kavadh had 
designated his favourite son Xusro to become his successor and thereby had 
violated the birth-right of his older son Kavus. 149 In order to protect Xusro 
against other claimants to the throne Kavadh sought Justin's cooperation. 1 ' 

Kavadh's plans regarding his succession also had an impact on his attitude 
towards the Mazdakite movement, which he had favoured for a long time 
and which had become an important element of his social reforms, not least 
with an eye to strengthening his own position (11). In contrast to Kavus, 
who was a follower of Mazdak, Xusro was a declared opponent of Mazdak. 
It is likely that Xusro's influence was responsible for the noticeable tensions 
between the Sasanian ruler and Mazdak from the beginning of the 520s 

Although at first the Roman emperor was very pleased with Kavadh's 
plan, the negotiations failed in the end. 1 ' 1 The rejection of the king's pro- 
posal by Byzantium did not remain without consequences. Around 528/9, 
Siyavush, one of the Persian envoys and also one of the most important pro- 
ponents of Mazdakism in the Sasanian Empire, was executed. Shortly after, 

147 Pieler 1972: 399—433 comments on the legal implications that appatently caused Roman doubts with 
regard to such an adoption. At the time Byzantium moreover envisaged re-conquering the West 
and propagated Roman world domination, which would have made it impossible to acknowledge 
the Sasanian king as a ruler of equal rank; cf. Veh 1970: 467. 

148 On Procopius as a significant source for the sixth century see Greatrex 1984; Cameron 1985: 152—70. 

149 Proc. BP I.n.1-6. 

150 Luther 1997: 218 points to the difficulties in assessing the authenticity of the failed request for an 
adoption but argues that the request as such was not implausible, in particular as historical examples 
(9) existed and the Roman emperor and the king of kings indeed imagined themselves as relatives, 
an example being Amm. xvii.5.10; on this last aspect see Winter 1989a: 72—92. 

151 Apart from the reasons for this failure given on p. 38 above Veh 1970: 467 points to the fact that the 
Romans had just started to Christianise the important border area Lazika by the Black Sea and thus 
to remove it from Persian sovereignty; on this 'Lazic question see Angeli Bertinelli 1989; 117—46 
and Braund 1991: 221—5. 

io6 5 Military confrontations 

Kavadh did not intervene when Xusro conspired to have Mazdak removed, 
too. Earlier, in 526 Sasanian initiatives to establish Zoroastrianism in Iberia, 
the majority of whose population was Christian, had triggered new military 
confrontations. 152 

13: The second Sasanian-Byzantine War (540-62) 

Procopius tells us about an embassy that the king of the Goths, Vitiges, sent 
to Xusro I before military confrontations began in 540 and whose aim it was 
to induce the Sasanian ruler to start a war against Justinian. The speech of 
the Gothic diplomats illustrates both the regional expansion of the conflict 
between West and East and its world historical dimensions. More and more 
nations were drawn into the Byzantine— Sasanian confrontations. 

Procopius, De Bello Persico 11.2.4—11 

(4) They [the envoys] appeared before Xusro and spoke as follows, 'As a rule, it is 
the case that all other envoys, O king, join an embassy for the sake of their own 
advantage, but we have been sent by Vitiges, the king of the Goths and of the 
Italians, 153 so that we speak on behalf of your empire; and now view the following 
as if he said it to you in person. (5) If someone said, bluntly, that you, O king, had 
given up your kingdom and all subjects to Justinian, he would rightly say so. (6) 
For he is a man who by nature strives for change and loves what does not belong 
to him at all, who is not able to keep things as they are, who has therefore tried to 
seize the whole earth and has been captured by the desire to take for himself each 
and every rule. (7) He therefore decided (since he was neither strong enough to go 
against the Persians on his own nor capable of attacking others while at war with the 
Persians) to deceive you in the guise of a peace, while he subjugated the remaining 
powers by force and prepared a huge force against your empire. (8) Already having 
destroyed the kingdom of the Vandals he subjugated 154 the Maurusians 155 while the 
Goths stayed out of his way because of a so-called friendship, but now he has come 
against us with huge sums of money and a lot of men. (9) It is clear that - if he can 
destroy utterly also the Goths - he will march against the Persians together with us 
and those whom he has enslaved already, and neither will he respect the name of 
friendship nor will he be ashamed with regard to the oaths that have been sworn. 
(10) While you have a chance to save yourself, do not do us any further harm 

152 Schippmann 1990: 52 suggests that these initiatives stemmed from Kavadh's desite to show the 
Zotoastrians in Persia that he was no longer a follower of the Mazdakite movement. 

153 In 537 the king of the Eastern Goths (536—40) had embarked on an offensive in Italy against 
Justinian's general Belisarius, who had conquered Rome. In March 538 Vittigis had to abandon 
his siege of Rome and Belisarius advanced to Ravenna. In this situation the king of the Goths 
campaigned for allies in his fight against Justinian. 

154 In 533/4 Belisarius defeated the Vandals, whose king Gelimer had been supported by the Maureta- 
nian nobility, and as a result North Africa was again ruled by Byzantium. 

155 This is an older name of the inhabitants of Mauretania in north-west Africa; cf. Polyb. in. 33. 15. 

jj The second Sasanian— Byzantine War 107 

and do not suffer it yourself but recognise in our misfortunes what will happen to 
the Persians soon; also understand that the Romans could never be well disposed 
towards your kingdom but that as soon as they have become stronger they will 
not hesitate to reveal their hostile attitude towards the Persians, (n) This is the 
time to use your chance, do not look for it when it has passed. For once a good 
opportunity has been missed it tends not to present itself again. It is better to take 
the lead and be secure than to have missed opportunities and to suffer the most 
shameful fate ever at the hands of the enemy.' 

The Gothic envoys, whom Xusro received at his court in Ktesiphon around 
538/9, 156 speak of Justinian's aims to unite the whole world under his rule. 
They warn the Sasanian king that eventually even the Persian Empire will 
fall prey to Justinian's aggressive attitude if the opportunity to stop him 
is missed. It is true that the Roman emperor's foreign policy was based 
on the political idea of a renovatio imperii, a restoration of the former 
Empire. The envoys, however, also had their own interests at heart when 
they approached Xusro. In any case, their words fell on fertile ground. Well 
aware of his own position of power, Xusro did not hesitate to take action 
against Byzantium. 157 Disputes between the Ghassanids and Lahmids, Arab 
tribes supporting the Romans and Sasanians respectively, served as a pre- 
text for war (15). Not even a conciliatory letter from Justinian I, 158 who 
was preoccupied in the West with the Goths and the Huns, could per- 
suade Xusro to abandon his plans, and in the spring of 540 the Sasanians 
invaded Roman territory. It is once more Procopius who tells us about this 
advance. 159 

Procopius, De bello Persico n.5.1—4 

(1) When the winter was already over and for the emperor Justinian the thirteenth 
year of his reign had come to an end, l6 ° Xusro (I), the son of Kavadh invaded 
Roman territory with a large army at the beginning of spring, and he openly 
broke the so-called 'eternal peace'. 161 (2) He did not, however, march through the 
country between the two rivers but left the Euphrates on his right. (3) On the 
other side of the river there is the last Roman fortress, which is called Kirkesion 162 
and which is extremely strong because the Aborrhas, 163 a large river, has its mouth 

156 On the dating see Stein 1949: 362—8. 

157 Rubin 1995: 283 argues that even after Xusro Is reforms the Sasanian army did not quite have the 
strike force that is commonly believed. 

158 Cf. Proc. BP 11. 4.14— 26. I59 Downey 1953: 340— 8. 

160 -^j le enc j f t | le tn i rteentn y ear of Justinian's reign corresponds with 1 April 540. 

161 The peace had been concluded in 532; cf. Proc. BP 1.22.3. 

1 2 Kirkesion was the southernmost of the Roman fortresses in Mesopotamia and had been founded 
as a defensive post by Diocletian and then been fortified with strong walls and towers by Justinian 
(Proc. Aed. 11.6.1-11). 

163 This is the river Chaboras (al-Habiir). 

io8 5 Military confrontations 

here and flows into the Euphrates, and this fortress is located right in the corner 
which the junction of the two rivers forms. And another long wall outside the 
fortress separates the land between the two rivers there and forms a triangle around 
Kirkesion. (4) Because of this Xusro did not want to attack such a strong fortress 
and was not planning to cross the river Euphrates but rather to march against the 
Syrians and the Cilicians. . . 

Procopius not only comments on Xusro's determination but also explains 
the goals of the Persian advance. Apparently, Xusro was not interested 
in winning individual positions in Mesopotamia but — as had been the 
intention of Sapur I in the third century (5) - aimed immediately at the 
heartlands of the Byzantine East. He refrained from an attack on the strong 
Roman fortress Kirkesion in order to reach Syria and Cilicia as quickly as 
possible. 1 4 The element of surprise was not to be spoilt by a long siege, 
which would have slowed down his advance. Having captured Soura 5 he 
marched through Sergiopolis and Hierapolis, both of which paid a ran- 
som, 16 and then headed for his actual target: Antioch. The Sasanians took 
and destroyed the city of Beroia (Aleppo), 167 which was situated between 
Antioch and Hierapolis, and in June of 540 laid siege to the Syrian metropo- 
lis. Procopius describes the siege and capture of the city, which fell into 
Sasanian hands within days, in detail. 168 

Procopius, De bello Persico 11.10.4—p 

(4) But I get dizzy describing such great suffering and committing it to the memory 
of future times, and I cannot understand how it can be god's will to lift the fortune 
of a man or a place into the sky but then again to throw it down and to destroy it 
for no reason, as far as we can tell. (5) For it is not allowed to say that he does not 
do everything with reason, he who at the time did not mind watching Antioch 
being razed to the ground at the hands of the most unholy man, Antioch, whose 
beauty and splendour in every respect may not even now be entirely concealed. 
(6) The church alone was left after the city had been destroyed, and this through 
the efforts and foresight of the Persians who were in charge of this task. (7) And 
there were also many houses left around the so-called cerataeum, not because of 
the foresight of any human being but because they were situated on the outskirts 
of the city and not adjacent to any other building so that the fire could not get 
to them at all. (8) The barbarians also burnt what was outside the wall, except for 
the sanctuary which is dedicated to St Julianus, and by chance also the buildings 

If "> Proc. BP 11.5.2-4. l6 ' Ibid. 11.5.8-26. 

166 Ibid. II. 5.29-33 and 11. 6.16-25. l6? Ibid. 11.7.1-13. 

1 On the Persian conquest of Antioch see Downey 1961: 542—6; Evans 1996: 156—7 and Borm 2006: 

14 The third Sasanian— Byzantine War 109 

which had been built around this sanctuary. (9) For the envoys happened to make 
their stop here. 169 

The fall of Antioch left a deep impression on the Byzantine historian, 
who was puzzled by the events. It was indeed primarily the conquest of 
Antioch that made Xusro famous in the Western world, 170 and the Sasanian 
ruler added to his reputation by not missing any opportunity to remind 
the world of his deeds. Not far from the Sasanian capital Ktesiphon he 
built a new city that was modelled upon the conquered city; he named 
the new foundation Veh-Antiok-Xusro (= 'Xusro made this city better 
than Antioch') and settled Antioch's deported population here (36). 171 The 
capture of Antioch, however, did not bring any resolution but was merely 
a prelude to further military engagements that lasted for twenty years 172 
before in 562 an official peace concluded this second Sasanian— Byzantine 
War of the sixth century (2.0). 

14: The third Sasanian-Byzantine War (572-91) and the Persian 
expansion into South Arabia 

The historian Theophylact Simocatta, who was an imperial prefect and 
secretary in Constantinople during the reign of the emperor Heraclius/ 73 
tells us about the outbreak of the third Sasanian-Byzantine War in the 
sixth century. The author describes how the war spread geographically and 
points to the many links within the 'international balance of power'. 

Theophylact Simocatta ni.p.3-11 

(3) When the emperor Justinian had passed away to eternity after he had ruled 
the Romans for thirty-nine years, Justin the Younger became the successor to his 
rule; 174 he was actually a nephew of the emperor Justinian. (4) In the seventh year 
of the reign of Justin the Younger 175 the Romans broke the peace treaty 176 because 
of the king's carelessness, the blessings of peace were disrupted and destroyed, and 
what came upon the Romans and the Medes was war, which attracts all evils, 
the harbours, so to say, of all misfortunes, the archetypal destroyer of life, which 

1 9 Elsewhere Procopius describes the restoration of the city, which was called Theoupolis there- 
after (Proc. Aed. 11. 10. 1-25); for Antioch's mixed fortune in late antiquity see Liebeschiitz 1972 
and Kennedy 1992: 181—98; in general on the history, population and topography of Antioch see 
Chaumont 1987b: 119—25; Kondoleon 2000 and Huskinson and Sandwell 2004. 

170 Agath. iv.29.5-6. 1?1 Tabarl, tr. Noldeke, 265; Proc. BP r1.14.1-7. 

172 For an outline see Bury 1958: 93—120. 

173 On the author and his work see Schreiner 1985; for an English translation and commentary see 
Whitby and Whitby 1986. 

174 Justin II reigned from 14 August 565 to 5 October 578. I75 This is the year 572. 
176 Theophylact Simocatta is referring to the foedus of 562 (xo). 

no 5 Military confrontations 

one may appropriately call the rotten part of human affairs. (5) The Romans and 
Persians had sworn to keep peace for fifty years, but this oath was violated and 
broken through the great ignorance of the king. And from there the evil course of 
Roman misfortunes proceeded. 177 (6) The Romans accused the Parthians 178 and 
announced that they were responsible for the war; they claimed that the Persians 
had tried to persuade the Homerites (an Indian tribe subject to the Romans) 179 to 
revolt and that these had suffered terribly under Persian attacks because they had 
not given in to their offers, once the peace between the Persians and the Roman 
state had been dissolved. (7) They also complained by saying that the first thing 
the Persians did when the Turks had sent envoys to the Romans was to corrupt 
the Alans' 80 with bribes in order to do away with the envoys as they were passing 
through their territory and to prevent their passage; (8) the Romans were looking 
for a pretext and welcomed a war, and from small and irrelevant beginnings they 
devised for themselves a long path full of harm. 181 For their love of war did not quite 
earn them any advantage. (9) The Medes in turn declared that the Romans were the 
ones who had started the war and they had the following complaints: the Romans 
had approached the Armenians although these had officially been Persian subjects 
and had forced them into their own rule, 182 they had also killed Surenes, who had 
been appointed climatarches 1 ^ of the Armenian state by the Persian king;' 84 (10) 
moreover, the Romans did not want to pay the customary annual 500 pounds of 
gold, 185 which the emperor Justinian had agreed to in the peace treaty, because 
they seemed to think it was unworthy to pay tribute to the Persian king. (11) But 
this was not the case, rather they had made the payments for the defence of the 
fortresses, which served everybody's protection, so that the tremendous force of 
the numerous uncivilised nations would not have the opportunity to attack and 
destroy both empires. 186 

Surprisingly, Theophylact Simocatta accuses the Roman emperor of having 
broken the peace that the two powers had concluded for fifty years. He 
interprets the Roman accusations against the Sasanians, namely that their 

177 For a survey of Roman- Persian relations between 565 and 572 see Turtledove 1977: 120—47. 
17 Cf. above, p. 76 n. 23. 

179 The 'Homerites' were the 'Himyarites' who settled in the Yemen; by mistake the Greek sources 
label them an 'Indian tribe'; on the history of this Arab tribe see Wissmann 1964: 429-99. 

180 On the Alans, an Iranian people with homes in the northern parts of the Caucasus, see Bachrach 
1973; Bosworth 1977: 218—29. 

1 1 The author, a contemporary observer of Byzantium's desperate situation at the time of Heraclius' 
confrontations with the Sasanians, blames Justin; cf. also Tinnefeld 1971; 49—50. 

182 In the autumn of 570 Byzantium concluded a treaty with Armenia which was not official until 572 
and which was propagated as the casus belli by the Sasanians. 

183 'Ruler over the area'. 

1 4 This Sasanian official from the family of the Suren was assassinated on 2 February 572. 

185 It is not clear why Theophylact Simocatta talks about 500 pounds of gold (= 36,000 solidi); 
according to Menander Protector, frg. 11 {FHG iv 208) the foedus of 562 (2.0) stipulated 30,000 
solidi; in this context see Giiterbock 1906: 63-5. 

186 Schreiner 1985: 279 n. 372 talks about Byzantium and Persia as a world police ('Hiiter der 
Weltordnung') . 

14 The third Sasanian— Byzantine War 


Map 7: The sphere of contact in the Near East between Iran and the Arabs in preTslamic 

and early Islamic times 

expansion into south-west Arabia — where the Yemen became a Sasanian 
vassal state until the rise of Islam 187 - and their intervention in Roman- 
Turkic diplomatic relations had caused the third great Byzantine— Persian 
War, 188 as pretexts and he claims that the West was simply eager for war. 

Arabia became a theatre of war in the course of the sixth century 
(map 7). Towards the end of the reign of Xusro I the Sasanians expanded 

Harmatta 1974. 

Turtledove 1983: 292—301. 

ii2 5 Military confrontations 

their rule as far as south-west Arabia. 189 This inevitably affected Byzan- 
tium's economic interests because the Romans wanted to control the Red 
Sea and thereby also the lucrative trade with India. 190 The fast spread of 
Christianity on both sides of the Red Sea, in Ethiopia as well as within 
the Arabian Peninsula, almost suggested Byzantium as a natural ally of 
these states. 191 While in Ethiopia the Aksumites had become Christians 
and were backing the West, the Himyarites, who at the time were the dom- 
inant power in South Arabia, had not yet been swayed by Christianity. In 
particular the ambitious Jewish Himyarite king Yusuf, who wanted to estab- 
lish an empire of south-west Arabia, did not refrain from persecuting the 
Christians. 192 Between 517 and 525 Yusuf 's national and religious subversive 
movement dissolved the previous Aksumite rule and assumed power. These 
years were characterised by intensive persecutions of the Christians and 
by a hostile attitude against Aksum and Byzantium, which was especially 
directed against merchants. Yusuf s rule therefore impaired Roman trade 

In 525 a joint force of Romans and Aksumites struck a decisive blow 
against the Himyarites. The consequence was a second Ethiopian rule in 
the Yemen, which lasted into the early 70s. 193 The Aksumites appointed 
a new Arab king of the Himyarites, who became a tribute paying depen- 
dant of Aksum. The Romans tried to maintain good relations with both 
parties, not least because they wanted to win them over to become Roman 
allies in the continuing war with the Sasanians. Moreover, they wanted 
to avoid Persian intermediate trade but rather establish a direct route via 
the Red Sea to India. At the beginning of the 530s the Ethiopian general 
Abramos achieved Aksum's independence and founded his own state in 
South Arabia. 194 Although his enemies approached Xusro I and urged him 
to intervene against the new ruler, the political situation in south-west 
Arabia did not change until Abramos died in the year 570. However, the 
accelerated spread of the Christian faith during this phase led to a closer 

189 Smith 1954: 425—68; Bosworth 1983: 604—12; Muller 1991: 303-31; Shahid 1995a: passim, esp. 723—4 
and Morony 2001-2002: 25—37. 

190 It is remarkable that Procopius BP 1. 19. 1 and 1.20.9 tens us about Justinian's efforts to win the 
friendship of the Aksumites in Ethiopia and of the Himyarites in South Arabia; Wiesehofer 1998b: 
19 sees these contacts with Aksum and South Arabia, which enabled the Romans to avoid Sasanian 
territory, closely linked with the Persian offensives in South Arabia. 

191 On early Roman activities in Aksum see Pigulevskaja 1969: 211-24. 
191 Proc. BP 1.20.1. 

193 On the history of Aksum in late antiquity, especially its attempts to expand into South Arabia, see 
Munro-Hay 1991; Harmatta 1974: 95—100. 

194 Proc. BP 1.20.3-8. 

14 The third Sasanian— Byzantine War 113 

relationship with Byzantium, which was manifested in Abramos' promise 
to support Justinian I in his battle against the Persians. 195 

When Abramos died affairs in the Yemen became unstable. The 
Aksumites were an occupying power in the area. After an unsuccessful 
attempt to gain support from Byzantium the Himyarites turned to the 
Lahmid ruler of Hira, Numan ibn Mundhir. This vassal king acted as a 
mediator and offered to plead their case before Xusro I. 19 Allured by the 
area's wealth and by the prospect of gaining control over south-west Arabia 
(and thereby inflicting great harm on the Roman trade) the Persian king 
decided to send an army into the Yemen. 197 

A fragment of a textile worked in the Gobelins technique seems to refer 
to the successful Persian activities in South Arabia that led to the liberation 
of the Yemen from Aksumite domination. 198 On this fragment, which was 
found at Antinoe in Egypt and is now at Lyons, Egyptian weavers used 
Iranian motifs (Fig. 15). I99 Among other battle scenes, Persian mounted 
archers are depicted in combat against a group of blacksoldiers, who identify 
an African enemy. In the foreground, a majestic Sasanian king is observing 
the battle. The textile shows that the celebration of the Sasanian triumph 
by Persian weavers was copied by Egyptian artists towards the end of the 
sixth or beginning of the seventh century. 

In the Yemen, the Persians appointed a Himyarite as viceroy, who col- 
lected taxes and administered the country on behalf of the Sasanian kings. 200 
In order to prevent this viceroy from gaining too much power and in order 
to collect their taxes directly, from the end of the sixth century onwards 
the Persians appointed a governor, a move which obviously further intensi- 
fied the Sasanian influence in the region. Only when the Arab conquerors 
embarked on their advance between 628 and 632 did the Yemen fall into 
Muslim hands. 

The Romans did not immediately respond to the successful Persian 
attack that ended Aksumite rule in the Yemen, because their own troops 
were engaged in several military confrontations along the borders of the 
Roman Empire. It is difficult to assess to what extent these developments 
within the Arabian Peninsula were responsible for the outbreak of a new 
Sasanian— Byzantine War in the year 572. Rather convincingly, Theophy- 
lact Simocatta refers to the Persian accusations against Justin, namely that 
the emperor wanted to free himself from the annual tributary payments 

195 Ibid. 1. 20. 13. I96 Tabari, tr. Noldeke 220-1; Bosworth 236—7 (946). 

197 Ibid. 221—5 tr - Noldeke; Bosworth 237—40 (946—9). 

19 Harmatta 1974: 95—106; cf. also Compareti 2002. I99 Ghirshman 1962: 236. 

200 Tabari, tr. Noldeke 236—7; Bosworth 251—2 (957-8). 


5 Military confrontations 

Fig. 15 Textile fragment from Antinoe in Egypt 

(Ghirshman, R. (1962) Iran. Parthians and Sassanians: fig. 289) 

(Photo: R. Basset) 

stipulated in the peace treaty of 562 (2.0). 2<DI The main reason for the 
emperor's confidence was the fact that from 568 onwards the Romans 
entertained diplomatic relations with the Turks. In this year the Persian 
king turned away Turkish ambassadors who wanted to obtain permission 

201 Turtledove 1983: 292-334. 

15 The advance of Xusro II Parvez 115 

to sell silk in the Persian Empire. In turn, the Turks approached Byzantium 
and offered the emperor trade relations and safe transport of the precious 
ware beyond Sasanian territory; they declared that they were willing to fight 
enemies of Byzantium along all frontiers. 202 Not surprisingly, Theophylact 
Simocatta mentions Sasanian attempts to undermine these diplomatic con- 
tacts. The Persians' fear of an alliance between their two greatest rivals was 
more than justified. 

Although the negotiations with the Turks were delayed until 576 and 
even then from a Roman perspective did not bring the desired results, 
in 572 Justin used the first opportunity to start a war against the Sasani- 
ans. 203 According to Theophylact Simocatta political unrest in Armenia 
triggered the war. In the course of a revolt against Persian domination a 
high Sasanian official, whom Xusro I had entrusted with the erection of a 
Zoroastrian fire temple in Dvin, was killed. When the Armenians success- 
fully appealed to Justin II for protection this amounted to a declaration of 


15: The advance of Xusro II Parvez (602-28) 

Tabari, Ta'rih 1 1001—2 10 '' 

When the news that the Romans had broken their allegiance to Maurice and had 
killed him reached Xusro, he became furious, and was disgusted by it and was filled 
with anger. He sheltered the son of Maurice who had come to him as a refugee, 
crowned him and announced him king over the Romans. He then dispatched 
him together with strong troops led by three of his commanders. One of them, 
called Rumiyuzan, was sent to Syria, which he conquered as far as Palestine. . . 2o6 
The other commander, whose name was Sahin, was the Padosban of the West. 207 
He journeyed until he took possession of Egypt, Alexandria and Nubia. He sent 
Xusro the keys of the city of Alexandria in the 28th year of his reign. As far as the 
third commander is concerned, he was called Faruhan and his rank was that of 

202 Menander Protector frg. 18. 

203 On the violation of the peace of 562 see Giiterbock 1906: no— 16. 

204 Theoph. Simoc. m.9.9; cf. in this context also Schreiner 1985: 278—9 n. 370. 

205 Cf. Bosworth, English translation, notes to the text 317—19. 
20 For the following passage see 33 below. 

207 The title Padosban indicates a high military official; according to Tabari there were four Padosbans, 
each of whom was in charge of a fourth part of the empire (corresponding to the four points of 
the compass); cf Tabari, tr. Noldeke 15 n. 2 and Wiesehofer 2001: 198; on the Sasanian military in 
general see Gignoux 1984b; 1—29 and Gnoli 1985; 265—70; for an introduction to the administration 
of the Sasanian Empire see Demandt 1995; 517—18. 

n6 5 Military confrontations 

'Sahrbaraz'. 208 Heading for Constantinople he halted at the shore of the Gulf close 
by, where he set up his camp. At the order of Xusrd he destroyed the land of the 
Romans out of anger at the insult done to Maurice and to avenge him upon them. 

In this brief account the Arab historian summarises the successful Sasanian 
advances from 603 onwards. 209 During a first phase of the war, which 
Xusro II Parvez declared as an act of revenge for the assassination of his 
former benefactor Maurice, 210 the Sasanians gained control of Armenia 
and from there marched on into Cappadocia. Further south their advances 
were equally successful. Among other conquests were the fortified border 
cities Amida, Rhesaina, Kallinikos and Kirkesion. All of Mesopotamia fell 
into Sasanian hands so that the Euphrates became the new border-line 
between the two empires. Between 608 and 610 Persian troops also pushed 
their way through Asia Minor and eventually reached Chalcedon. Another 
contingent marched as far as Caesarea, which remained in Sasanian hands 
for a year. 211 However, by the beginning of the year 610 the Persians withdrew 
from Asia Minor. 212 

Political unrest within the Byzantine Empire favoured the Sasanian suc- 
cesses considerably and eventually led to Phocas' downfall. Heraclius, the 
son of the exarchos of Carthage of the same name, became the new ruler of 
the Byzantine Empire. By now it had also become clear that the Romans 
were in a weak position in the Eastern provinces because they had exploited 
these economically and because they were enforcing an orthodox religious 
policy. The inhabitants of these provinces did not identify with Byzantium 
any more but accepted the Persians, who adhered to a tolerant religious 
policy, as their new rulers. In addition, the Roman troops were in a deso- 
late state and no longer in the position to resist any serious attacks. It is thus 
not surprising that at the beginning of his reign Heraclius sought to come 
to an agreement with Xusro II Parvez (590—628) in order to consolidate his 
own position as well as that of his empire. 

Xusro IPs activities during the following years, however, indicate that 
the Sasanian ruler was not interested in a settlement. Although his initial 
aim in the war, namely to avenge his former benefactor Maurice, had been 
realised when Phocas fell, the weakness of the Byzantine Empire at the time 
and the successes of his own army raised ambitions way beyond his original 
goals. He now wanted to beat his great Western opponent into complete 

2oS Apparently this is a name, not a title; cf. Tabarl, tr. Noldeke 290 n. 3 and 292 n. 2. 
209 For a chronology of the events to the peace of 628 see Stratos 1968: 103—17 and 135—234. 
2I ° Cf. pp. 237-41. 2n Holum 1992: 73-85. 2I2 Foss 1975: 721-47 (= 1990: 1). 

213 Frendo 1985: 30—6. 

5J The seventh century: Might and decline of Sasanian power 117 

Soon after Heraclius succeeded to the throne, he was confronted with 
serious Persian advances into Byzantine territory. The troops of Xusro II 
crossed the Euphrates, once more invaded Syria, raided the countryside 
and conquered numerous cities, above all Antioch (611). 2I4 At about the 
same time Sasanian troops marched via Cilicia into Cappadocia and re- 
conquered Caesarea, which had been in the meantime liberated by the 
Romans. Towards the end of the year 612 the situation was more than 
problematic for the Romans. Apart from the important city of Caesarea, 
most of Syria was in Sasanian hands, as a consequence of which links and 
communications with the provinces of Palestine and Egypt were severely 
impaired. Heraclius therefore had to do everything he could to prevent a 
split of his empire and the loss of the economically important province of 

Accordingly, the year 613 was marked by Heraclius' desperate attempts 
to stop the Persian advance. He sent Philippicus to Armenia in order that 
he would threaten Sasanian territory from there, while he himself marched 
south in order to re-conquer Syria. Neither of the two projects was successful 
and the Roman troops had to withdraw in light of the superiority of the 
Persian forces. Heraclius returned to Constantinople while the Sasanians 
continued their expansive policy unchecked. Before the end of 613 they took 
several Syrian and Palestinian coastal cities, and among these Damascus fell 
without any opposition. In May of the following year the Persians captured 
the holy city of Jerusalem after a short siege. 215 The churches were set on 
fire, murder and plunder swept the city for three days. The Holy Cross 
was taken to Ktesiphon, 21 an act that received much attention by the Arab 
author Tabari (33) and that caused a spirit of desperation and indignation 
throughout the Christian world. 

During the following period the Persians conquered all of Syria and 
Palestine, and in 615 Sasanian troops once more reached Chalcedon in 
Asia Minor and the gates of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine 
Empire. 217 Heraclius' renewed attempts to make peace failed yet again. As 
the Romans were also attacked from the north, the situation became more 
and more threatening. The Slavs and Avars were raiding Greece and the 
Balkan provinces. When in 617 the latter reached Constantinople, the cap- 
ital was attacked from two sides. 218 The emperor tried to conclude a peace 
with the Avars but was as unsuccessful as he had been with the Sasanians 
before. At this point (end of 616) the Persians embarked on an Egyptian 

214 Morony 1987: 87—95 an d Russell 2001: 41—71. 2I5 Cf. below, pp. 230-1. 

21 Cf. Whitby and Whitby 1989: 156-7 on Chron. Pasch. a. 614 and Mango 1985: 91— 117. 

217 On this advance see Foss 1975: 721—47 (= 1990: 1). 2l8 Cf. Woods 1996: 259—79. 

n8 5 Military confrontations 

campaign. They captured Pelousion, Babylon, Memphis and Nikiu with- 
out much resistance. After an initial unsuccessful attack, Alexandria was 
eventually taken by treason. By 619 the Persians had gained control of all 
of Egypt. 219 

For Byzantium, losing Alexandria was a particularly bitter defeat, since 
the capital's grain supply was now in jeopardy. For the Sasanians, having 
conquered Egypt meant control of the entire Near East. Tabari, whose 
account compresses the sequence of events, conveys the impression that 
Xusro II carefully instructed his armies to push in three directions, namely 
into Syria, Egypt and Asia Minor. The old borders of the Achaemenid 
Empire seemed restored. It is difficult to assess whether the Sasanians of 
the early seventh century still knew about the size and dimensions of the 
empire of their ancestors and if the late Sasanian rulers modelled their 
foreign policy upon an Achaemenid goal of world domination. However, 
there is no doubt that in 619 the Sasanian Empire was at the zenith of its 
powers. Byzantium, in contrast, was threatened from all sides and limited 
to a defensive policy. Nevertheless, the superiority of the Eastern power 
did not last for very long. In the year 622 the emperor Heraclius started 
a counter offensive 220 which formed the beginning of the downfall of the 
Sasanian Empire. 

219 For the exact chronology of the conquest of Egypt see Altheim-Stiehl 1992: 87-96 and 1998: 252—4. 
zzo Baynes 1904: 694-702; Oikonomides 1976: 1—9; Howard-Johnston 1994: 57—87 and 1999: 1—44- 


Diplomatic solutions 

The persistent military conflicts took their toll of Romans as well as Persians. 
Already for the third and up to the seventh century our sources attest to 
attempts to end wars or to even prevent conflicts altogether by way of 
diplomatic activities. These attempts were serious and showed true interest 
in a peaceful coexistence beyond the existing rivalries. However, severe 
defeats in battle, military exhaustion as well as domestic crises were the 
main reasons why the parties sought a cease-fire and tried to come to 

Numerous peace treaties have survived, and their contents are elabo- 
rately described by the ancient authors; moreover, many details regarding 
embassies during this period convey a vivid impression of the diplomatic 
relations between the two powers and allow insight into legal practices 
in the international arena that had developed during the course of late 
antiquity. An analysis of the diplomatic protocol shows that in spite of any 
political rivalry both states acknowledged the other's sovereignty and that 
both rulers were perceived as equals. This chapter in particular points to 
the efforts towards a reconciliation of differing interests and to conditions 
under which a peaceful coexistence of neighbours was possible. 

16: The peace treaty of 244 between Philip the Arab and Sapur I 

The Sapur Inscription on the Kdba-i Zardust at Naqs-i Rustam (SKZ) 
§ 8 The Parthian text 

And the emperor Philip approached us with a petition (regarding the conditions 
for surrender) and gave us for their souls a ransom of 500,000 denarii and became 
tributary to us; and we therefore renamed Mislk as Peroz-Sapur (Victorious is 

Apparently Rome's crushing defeat at Mislk in the year 244 and the death 
of the Roman emperor Gordian III forced his successor Philip the Arab to 
seek a peaceful settlement with Sapur I. According to the Res gestae divi 


120 4 The diplomatic solutions 

Saporis the Roman emperor approached the Sasanian king on Persian ter- 
ritory 1 in order to negotiate a peace. Sapur tells us that he consented to 
the foedus under the condition that a high ransom was paid for the release 
of the Roman prisoners. The sum of 500,000 denarii 7 ' mentioned in the 
inscription suggests a large number and high rank of these prisoners. 3 Not 
surprisingly, the Western sources do not include any details regarding the 
ransom. 4 They emphasise the territorial agreements, 5 which Sapur himself 
also alludes to by remarking that the Roman emperor became tributary to 
the Sasanian king. His words hint at the political situation in Armenia. 6 
Whereas up to this point Rome had made payments to Armenia for main- 
taining the fortresses in the Caucasus against nomadic invasions, Sapur I 
now became the recipient of these payments and thus took over the respon- 
sibility for the protection of Armenia against the threat from the north; both 
powers were equally interested in this task (2.7). As can be expected from 
this propagandistic source, the Sapur Inscription emphasises the Roman 
emperor's retreat 7 and the new influential position of the Sasanian ruler in 
Armenia. 8 What should rather be described as 'Rome's annual subsidiary 
payments for the fortresses in the Caucasus' Sapur labels as 'tributary pay- 
ments'. However, there is no doubt that the agreement on the Armenian 
question shifted the balance of power in Sapur's favour. The majority of 
the Western sources judge the foedus of 244 as a failure and talk about a 
'most dishonourable peace'. 9 

Philip the Arab tried to present the treaty as a success. Coins issued in the 
year 244 praise the pax fundata cum Persis (fig. 16). I0 Inscriptions dated to the 
years 244 and 245 name Philip the Arab as Persicus maximus or Parthicus 
maximus and thus refer to the emperor's triumph over the Sasanians. 11 

Winter 1994: 599—602 discusses the venue for the peace negotiations. 

These must have been gold denarii; cf. Guey 1961: 261—75 an d Pekary 1961: 275—83; regarding the 

character of this payment see Winter 1988: 101-2. 

Sprengling 1953: 84. 

Zos. III. 32.4, who describes the peace as detrimental for Rome, must have been aware of the high 

ransom for Roman prisoners, which may well have had an impact on his evaluation. 

Zon. xil. 19 talks about the loss of Mesopotamia; Zos. 1. 19. 1 does not mention the loss of any territory. 

The author explicitly states (ill. 32. 4) that the year 244 had not seen any loss of Roman territory; 

according to Euagr. HE V.7 Rome had to cede territory in Armenia. 

On the cession of territories see Winter 1988: 102—7 and Bleckmann 1992; 76-88. 

Kettenhofen 1982: 35 n. 72 raises the possibility that the agreement as far as Armenia was concerned 

featured a kind of 'non-intervention-clause'. 

On the Roman— Sasanian battle over Armenia in the third century in general see Chaumont 1969 

and 1976. 

Zos. in. 32. 4. IO Cf. Baldus 1971: 31. 

CIL in 4346; 10619 (= ILS 507); 14354/6; vi 1097 (= ILS 506). 

16 The peace treaty of 244 


Fig. 16 Coin of Philip the Arab, 244 

(Cohen, H. (i955 z ) Description historique des monnaies frapees sous ['empire romain 

communement appelees medailles imperiales Vh: Philippe Pere nr. 113) 

(Cabinet de France. Signifie Argent) 

These testimonies obviously form a stark contrast with the military defeat 
at Mislk and the terms of the peace that followed. However, we have to 
bear in mind that - given his political and military situation - the Roman 
emperor concluded a treaty with the Sasanians that could not have been 
any more favourable. Considering the disastrous Roman defeat at Mislk 
Philip the Arab has to be given some credit for having satisfied Sapur's 
territorial claims by offering to withdraw from Armenia. In light of these 
circumstances it would appear justified that the Roman emperor publicly 
advertised his pax fundata cum Persis. 

The events of the year 244 raised the 'national' confidence of the East vis 
a vis the world power Rome considerably. The Persians intended to repre- 
sent their military as well as diplomatic triumph to the world accordingly. 
As we learn from the great Sapur Inscription, the Persian king changed 
the name of Mislk into the triumphal 'Peroz-Sapur' (= Victorious is 
Sapur'), which was certainly an effective starting point for promoting the 
victory. In this context the Sasanian rock reliefs may be compared as the 
iconographic counterpart to the epigraphic account of the events given 
by Sapur I. On the majority of the rock reliefs, also on the one at Blsapur, 
Philip the Arab is represented in a kneeling position (fig. 6). He is paying 

122 4 The diplomatic solutions 

homage to the mounted Sasanian king and offering peace. 12 On another 
rock relief at Darabgerd 13 a shallow rectangular object decorated with a 
ribbon is depicted in Sapur's right hand, which may be indicating that 
the Roman emperor has offered the Persian king an agreement, a draft 
of which Sapur is holding in his hands. 14 Regardless of any specific inter- 
pretation, there is no doubt that Sapur concluded a glorious peace with 

17: The peace treaty of 298 IS between Diocletian and Narse 

Our main source for the peace treaty of 298 is the account of Peter the 
Patrician (c. 500-64). l6 In fact, regarding Roman-Sasanian relations in the 
third century the narrative of this Byzantine historian is the only testimony 
that provides us with details about the provisions of this agreement. 17 Most 
likely the author had access to archival material and was thus well informed 
of the diplomatic procedures in the year 298. Nevertheless we must bear 
in mind that his account is not a copy of the actual agreement but at best 
a commentary. The specific terms can only be reconstructed through a 
careful comparison with other sources. These, however, are extremely brief 
and in contrast to Peter the Patrician yield little information. 18 Moreover, 
Peter's elaborate narrative gives fascinating insight into the diplomatic rela- 
tions between Rome and the Persian Empire towards the end of the third 
century 19 

Peter the Patrician, frg. 13—14 

(13) As Apharban, who was a very close friend of the Persian king Narse, had been 
sent as ambassador, he approached Galerius in supplication. When he had the 
opportunity to speak he said, 'It is obvious for all mankind that the Roman and 
the Persian Empires are just like two lamps; and it is necessary that, like eyes, the 
one is brightened by the light of the other and that they do not angrily strive 

12 Gobi 1974: 12. I3 Hinz 1969: plate y6. 

14 Thus Triimpelmann 1975: 15; in contrast see Gobi 1974: 21, who interprets the tessera handed to 
Sapur by Philip the Arab as a reference to the amount of ransom demanded for the release of the 
captured Romans. 

15 For a date of 299 see Barnes 1976: 179—86. 

16 On the author and his work see Blockley 1985b. 

17 The author was interested in this historical event because he was himself a Byzantine ambassador in 
the peace negotiations with the Persians during the reign of Xusro I (531—79). 

1 Cf especially Fest. 14; for a survey of the sources on thefoedus of 298 see Winter 1988: 169-71. 
19 Winter 1988: 163-8. 

ij The peace treaty of 298 123 

for each other's destruction. 20 For this is not held as a virtue but rather levity or 
weakness. As they believe that later generations will not be able to help them they 
make an effort to destroy their opponents.' He continued by saying that it was not 
necessary to think that Narse was weaker than the other kings but rather to see 
Galerius as that much superior to the other kings so that Narse himself was inferior 
to him alone, and rightly so, without, however, proving to be lower in dignity than 
his ancestors. Apharban added that Narse had given him instructions to entrust, 
as they were fair, the right of his empire to the kindness of the Romans; that this 
was why he was not bringing the oaths by which the peace had to be concluded 
but was handing everything over to the judgement of the emperor, asking only 
that his children and wives were returned to him, and he claimed that for their 
return he would owe the emperor more for his benefactions than if spared by 
his arms. He was not able to thank him appropriately for the fact that those in 
captivity had not experienced any cruelty but had been treated as if soon to be 
returned to their own high status at home. In this context he also reminded the 
emperor of the changeable character of human affairs. But Galerius seemed to be 
angry about this remark and, with his body beginning to shake, responded that 
it was not quite appropriate for the Persians to remind others of the changes in 
human affairs because they themselves did not cease to use every opportunity to 
add to human misfortune. 21 'For you guarded the rule of victory well in Valerian's 
case, when you deceived him with tricks, took him captive and did not release 
him until old age and his shameful death, when you, after his death, conserved 
his skin with some disgusting method and thereby afflicted the mortal body with 
immortal offence.' 22 The emperor 23 went through all this and added that his mind 
was not changed by what the Persian embassy tried to convey, namely that he 
should respect human fate (because one should rather be enraged by this if one 
considered what the Persians had done), but that he would follow the footsteps of 
his own ancestors, whose custom it had been to spare their subjects but to fight 
the ones who opposed them; 24 he told the ambassador to inform his king of the 

20 It is striking how much these words resemble those of Xusro II (590—628) at the end of the sixth 
century when he approached the Byzantine emperor Maurice in order to win him as an ally against 
his internal rival Bahrain Cobin; Theoph. Simoc. iv.u.i— 2 must have based his wording on the chro- 
nicle of Peter the Patrician; see also the way Sapur II addresses Constantius II in Amm. XVII. 5. 3 (34). 

21 According to Sprengling 1953: in Galerius' words are too immediate and lively for an account that 
was composed 250 years after the events and cannot have been the product of the historian's own 

22 At this point Galerius recalls the fate of the Roman emperor Valerian, who had been captured by 
the Persians during the reign of Sapur I (240—72) (5). 

23 In the Greek text the author uses the title basileus, as it was indeed used for a Roman emperor; 
Galerius, however, had been acclaimed 'Caesar' on 21 May (?) 293; he was acclaimed Augustus' in 
Nicomedia not before I May 305; on the title of basileus in the early Byzantine period see in general 
Chrysos 1978: 29—75. 

24 Galerius alludes to Vergil's famous words parcere subiectis et debellare superbos (Aen. vi.853), which 
describe a principle of Rome's attitude towards defeated enemies; ironically, the attribute superbus 
describes the Persian ambassador rather well so that Rome's generosity appears even more noteworthy; 
the reader is also reminded of Festus' statement (25), Persaenon modo armis sed etiam moribus Romanos 
superiores esse confessi sunt; see Eadie 1967a: 148. 

124 4 The diplomatic solutions 

generosity of the Romans, whose kindness he had challenged, and to hope that 
soon they [the captives] would return to him by judgement of the emperor. 

(14) When Galerius and Diocletian had come together in Nisibis, they took 
counsel there and agreed to send an ambassador to Persia, Sicorius Probus, an 
archivist. Narse received him in a friendly way expecting to hear what had been 
reported to him. But Narse also made use of delaying tactics. For as if he wanted the 
ambassadors who had come with Sicorius to recover (since they were exhausted), 
he took Sicorius, who knew well what was going on, as far as the Asproudis, a 
river in Media, until the units who had been scattered here and there because of 
the war had gathered. And then, in the inner room of the palace, having sent 
away all others and allowing only the presence of Apharban and of the archapetes 
Barsaborsos, 25 the one of whom was the praetorian prefect and the other held the 
rule over Syme, 26 he asked Probus to deliver his message. The main points of the 
ambassador's message were the following: that in the eastern region the Romans 
should receive Ingilene together with Sophene, Arzanene together with Karduene 
and Zabdikene and that the river Tigris should be the boundary line between the 
two states, 27 that the fortress of Zintha, which was located on the border of Media, 
should mark the border of Armenia, that the king of Iberia should owe his royal 
status to the Romans, and that the city of Nisibis, which lies on the Tigris, should 
be the place of trade. Narse listened to these points and - as his present situation 
did not allow him to refuse any of this - agreed to all of them; with the exception, 
so that he would not seem to be forced to comply with everything, that he rejected 
the condition that Nisibis should be the only place for exchange. Sicorius, however, 
responded, 'This point is a requirement because the embassy does not have full 
power and no instructions for this have been given by the emperors.' When these 
matters had thus been settled, Narse was given back his wives and children, whose 
pure reputation had been respected thanks to the emperors' love of honour. 

Already shortly after the decisive defeat in Armenia, which did not leave the 
Sasanians any prospects for a military success (6), the Persian ruler Narse 
sent an ambassador to Galerius. The main objective of this embassy was 
to achieve the release of the royal family whose captivity would represent 
an asset for the Romans during the negotiations and at least a significant 
psychological advantage. The man sent to Galerius by Narse was Apharban, 

25 On the title archapetes, which is attested for the Parthian and early Sasanian period, see Chaumont 
1986a: 400—1; on Barsaborsos see Chaumont 1969: 120; Felix 1985: 124. 

26 Peeters 1931: 27—8 conjectures ten tou Symiou eichen archen into ten tou semeiou archen; in this case 
Barsaborsos, who was able to read, would have acted as secretary to the Great king, which would 
suggest that there was a written agreement. 

27 Chrysos 1976: 12—14 points to the significance of the term politeia, i.e. the 'state' as a construct 
organised in a specific way in contrast to the royal power (basileia). Chrysos argues that the term 
politeia indicates an autonomous state acting in a politically sovereign manner and that in the 
sixth and seventh centuries Byzantine authors such as Peter the Patrician, Menander Protector and 
Theophylact Simocatta reserved this term for Rome and the Sasanian Empire whereas other empires 
and nations were labelled as ethne and gene; see also Schreiner 1983: 305—6. 

ij The peace treaty of 298 125 

who was the commander of the royal guard and thus a high Persian dig- 
nitary and intimate friend of the Sasanian king. On the Roman side the 
negotiations were led by the magister memoriae Sicorius Probus, who was 
likewise a high official. The Persian ambassador argued that the Roman and 
Persian Empires were like two lights, two eyes, whose sparkle made each 
other shine, and they should therefore refrain from destroying each other. 28 
Although Apharban used this metaphor in order to emphasise the equal 
rank of both empires his words cannot be dismissed as a feeble attempt 
to show the Sasanian Empire in a better light. The expressive image must 
reflect his actual view of the relationship between the two states. 29 

Apharban then went on to appeal to the Romans' sense of humanity 
and justice. However, when he asked for the Persian captives to be treated 
well and assured the Roman emperor that this would oblige the great king 
more than a military victory could, Galerius became very angry and inter- 
rupted him. The memory of the death of the Roman emperor Valerian 
in Persian captivity just a few decades before (5) and the circumstances of 
his death must have been alive among Romans and Persians alike. Nev- 
ertheless, Galerius dismissed the Persian ambassador by promising Narse 
that the captives would return soon. The emperor's decision was probably 
motivated by his respect both for Diocletian's moderate policy and for the 
Sasanian Empire. The negotiations between Galerius and Apharban were 
a prerequisite for the conclusion of a formal peace treaty. 

When his negotiations with Apharban had come to an end, Galerius 
rushed to Nisibis where he and Diocletian jointly decided on the terms 
for a formal peace. 30 Afterwards Sicorius Probus went to meet Narse on 
Persian territory in order to inform him of these terms. It seems certain that 
Sicorius Probus and Narse met in Media but we do not know where exactly 
on the river Asproudis. 31 The region had been conquered by Galerius after 
Satala but officially it was still part of the Sasanian Empire. Diocletian's 
decision to send a middle man to the Persian ruler is surprising; even more 
surprising, however, is the fact that in spite of the Persian defeat the Roman 
ambassador crossed the official border and went to meet Narse in order 

2 Cf. also the words placed into the mouth of the Sasanian king Kavadh I by the Byzantine author 
Ioannes Malalas (18.44 [p- 449l)> namely that according to a divine plan Byzantium and the Sasanian 
Empire were the two centres of civilisation, 'the moon of the West and the sun of the East'; according 
to Theophylact Simocatta (iv.13.7) Xusro II wrote to his benefactor Maurice that 'one power alone 
was not able to shoulder the immense burden of taking care of the organisation of the universe 
and one man's pulse was not able to steer everything created under the sun'; see also Shahbazi 1990: 


29 For an analysis of this text see Winter 1988: 163—8. 

30 Eutr. ix.25.1; Zon. xn.31. 3I Enftlin 1942: 42. 

126 4 The diplomatic solutions 

to conclude the treaty. 32 In Iranian— Roman relations the venue for peace 
negotiations was a formal element as important as the accurate diplomatic 
ceremonial and was also seen to reflect the political balance of power. 

Diocletian's policy in the East was shaped by an attempt not to overexert 
the capacities of the empire, to refrain from expansion and to be content 
with a restoration of the borders that had been fixed by the Eastern policy 
of the Severi. In spite of Diocletian's strong position in 298 Rome did not 
show any aggressive or universal aspirations; instead, Diocletian intended 
to acknowledge the sovereignty of the defeated Sasanian king. This is illus- 
trated by the place where the foedus of 298 was concluded and which was 
accepted, perhaps even chosen by Rome, together with the moderate terms 
of the agreement. According to Peter the Patrician Narse had to give his 
consent to three important Roman conditions. The first of these concerned 
territory and a clarification of the situation along the Sasanian— Roman and 
Sasanian— Armenian borders. 33 Locating the so called 'provinces beyond the 
Tigris', which had to be ceded to Rome, poses problems (map 8). 34 

Peter the Patrician singles out five regions: Ingilene and Sophene geo- 
graphically comprise the area between the Tigris and the Nymphios. The 
third province, Arzanene, borders these in a south-eastern direction, also 
situated along the upper Tigris and starting from the eastern banks of 
the Nymphios. 35 Adjacent to this province are the regions Karduene and 
Zabdikene. A comparison with other sources 36 fleshes out our map of the 
area. The area between the Euphrates and the Nymphios and further east 
into Karduene actually included nine and not five regions. 

Moreover, our author's statement that the Tigris was supposed to be the 
new borderline between the two powers seems to contradict the fact that 
most areas ceded to Rome were located beyond the Tigris. This is con- 
firmed by the ancient author Festus, who wrote in the fourth century and 
was thus much closer to the events of 298 than Peter the Patrician. Festus 
claims that the Romans gained power over five peoples across the Tigris. 37 
Ammianus Marcellinus also mentions the regiones Transtigritanae?* Differ- 
entiating between a situation de-iure and one de-facto may help to explain 
the diverging accounts of Peter the Patrician and Festus. Whereas the latter 
describes the official situation which assigns the so called 'provinces beyond 
the Tigris' to Rome, the Byzantine historian describes the real situation that 
was created by an administrative practice in these provinces soon after 298. 39 

32 Winter 1994: 603—5. 33 Winter 1989b: 555-71. 34 Adontz 1970: 25-37. 

33 On this province see also Whitby 1983: 205—18. 

3 Amm. xxv.7.9. 37 Fest. 14.25. 3 Amm. xxv.7.9. 

39 Dillemann 1962: 217—18; see also Felix 1985: 125—6. 

ij The peace treaty of 298 


I Trans-Tigritanian regions/nations ^^vi ! 

Map 8: The 'Trans-Tigritania' 

Ancient authors of the fourth century, who talk about contemporary affairs 
along the border, refer to the Tigris as the actual borderline. 40 The Romans 
withdrew to the western banks of the Tigris; in 298 they refrained from con- 
structing a 'proper limes' beyond the Tigris but were content with securing 
strategically important passes. 41 

Accordingly, the regions beyond the Tigris which were ceded to Rome 
in 298 did not become new provinces of the Roman Empire but continued 
to be administered and ruled by Armenian noble families, who, however, 
were responsible to Rome. 42 Diocletian would not have envisaged a perma- 
nent territorial gain for the Roman Empire and left things as they were in 

40 Amm. xviii. 5. 3 and 6.9; Iul. Or. 1.22 b-c. 4I Honigmann 1935: 6-16. 

42 On the administrative structures and the legal status of these Roman— Armenian satrapies and on 
the special role of the Armenian satraps see EnElin 1942: 80—3. 

n8 4 The diplomatic solutions 

Trans-Tigritania. He must have hoped that such a policy of integration 
would secure the loyalty of the Armenians. 43 In this way, Rome pushed 
forward the line of defence for the province of Mesopotamia. During the 
following years, however, we observe new Roman activities with an eye to 
securing the border region, which illustrate the strategic importance of the 
area for the West. 44 Another territorial clause poses problems. 45 According 
to Peter the Patrician the fortress of Zintha, which was supposed to mark the 
boundary of Armenia, was situated along the border to Media. If we trust 
the words of the Byzantine historian, the borders of Armenia would have 
been shifted considerably eastward. In this case, Armenia would have been 
compensated for the loss of the 'provinces beyond the Tigris' in the area of 
the Media Atropatene (Azerbaijan) at Sasanian expense. It is also possible, 
however, that the fortress was situated within the border region Ingilene, 
which, as already mentioned, was ceded to Rome and was explicitly named 
in the treaty because of its strategic importance. 

Moreover, any compensation for Armenia by way of a south-eastern 
extension of its borders is problematic. 46 The overall policy of the Roman 
emperor speaks against an eastward extension of the borders all the way into 
the area of the Media Atropatene. Diocletian's conservative policy rather 
aimed at securing the status quo. It is noteworthy that Tiridates III was 
excluded from the peace negotiations of the year 298 although Galerius 
owed his military success against Narse above all to the help of the Arme- 
nian king. Diocletian acted in the name of Tiridates III, who apparently 
did not have any choice but to acknowledge his dependence on Rome. It 
does not look, therefore, as if Diocletian felt obliged to compensate Tiri- 
dates for anything. The latter must have been well aware that his existence 
depended on the great powers, and this was once more revealed by the treaty 
of298. 47 

According to Peter the Patrician the peace treaty also demanded that in 
the future the king of Iberia would receive the symbols of his rule from 
Rome. Narse thus had to acknowledge a Roman protectorate of Iberia, 
which was situated south of the middle Caucasus and north of Armenia. 

43 Barcelo 1981: 159 assumes that the long existing amicitia between Rome and Armenia was confirmed 
and that this friendship extended to a wide range of scenarios, such as Rome asking the Arsacid 
nobility ruling Armenia to protect Roman interests in the East. 

44 Honigmann 1935: 4—5; Enftlin 1942: 54—70 and Lightfoot 1986: 509—29. 

45 Winter 1988: 180-6. * 6 Kettenhofen 1995c: 69-73. 

47 Against this background we have to understand Tiridates Ill's decision to make Christianity the 
state religion in Armenia soon after 298. The war against Armenia that began in 312 was the answer 
to this move, which had such wide-reaching consequences for Armenia's future; on the war against 
Armenia by Maximinus Daia see Castritius 1968/9: 94—103; on Tiridates and the Christianisation of 
Armenia see Chaumont 1969: 131—46 and Kettenhofen 1995c: 48—135. 

ij The peace treaty of 298 129 

Rome thereby ruled over Kolchis and Iberia, which together make up the 
territory of modern Georgia. 48 By placing Iberia under their supremacy the 
Romans gained crucial strategic advantages over the Sasanian Empire. 

The last paragraph of the treaty of 298 concerned primarily economic 
questions (see also 2.8). 49 The city of Nisibis, which was situated on the 
Tigris, was named as the only place of trade between the two empires. 
Peter the Patrician mentions that Narse complained about this condition 
whereas he seems not to have shown any reaction against the other terms for 
peace proclaimed by Sicorius Probus. The king's protest as well as Rome's 
firm attitude reveal how much importance both sides attributed to this 
matter. Narse rejected the clause for good reasons because it entailed that 
the exchange of goods within Mesopotamia, in particular the local 
trade along the borders, would be impeded. Correctly, W. Seston inter- 
prets this 'economic clause' of the peace treaty as complementing the Roman 
defence system. 50 The many caravan routes in upper Mesopotamia and in 
particular the main waterway, the Euphrates, represented natural conditions 
for intensive trade and also for close contacts between the neighbouring 
regions of both states. The official frontier between the Roman and the 
Persian Empires was therefore somewhat artificial. From a Roman point of 
view, trying to declare Nisibis as the only place for an exchange of goods 
between the two empires makes sense, also with regard to the safety of the 
empire (2.8). 5I After Narse had agreed to Rome's terms his relatives were 
returned to him. 52 Festus tells us that the king's family had been treated 
very mercifully and that this impressed the Persians so much that they 
admitted to being inferior to the Romans not only in arms but also with 
regard to common decency 53 It is certainly possible that the return of the 
captives had been part of the official peace treaty 54 Apparently the treaty 
was concluded in the autumn of 298 and was ratified by the signatures of 
Narse and Sicorius Probus. It was afoedus that fulfilled the technical and 
legal conditions for an agreement that would bind both parties. 

48 Braund 1994: 245—6; on the history of this region in general see Lang 1983: 505—36 and Lordkipanidse 
and Brakmann 1994: 12-106. 

49 Winter 1987: 47—58 and 1988: 192-9. 5 ° Seston 1946: 176-7. 

51 According to Andreotti 1969: 217—18 the strict supervision of trade was not crucial for military 
considerations; cf. ibid. 215—57 f° r a detailed discussion of the relationship between national safety 
and the control of trade. 

52 Malal. 12.39 Cp- 308); Zon. xii.31. 

53 Fest. 25; Eutr. ix.27.2 and Zon. xn.32 claim that Diocletian paraded Narse's family in his triumph 
but these statements must be seen as part of a literary embellishment surrounding the great triumph 
that Diocletian celebrated in 303. 

54 Cf. Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg 1931: 400. 

130 4 The diplomatic solutions 

Most modern scholars interpret the foedus of 298 as a great political and 
diplomatic Roman triumph. In contrast, P. Barcelo and R. Klein argue 
that the final treaty of the year 298 created a situation that was genuinely 
unacceptable for the Sasanians and hence dangerous. The two scholars 
talk about a delayed war rather than a real peace, which only lasted as 
long as it did because for a while the Sasanian king Sapur II was preoccu- 
pied with domestic and other foreign affairs. They claim that Diocletian's 
wish to fortify the border revealed how much the emperor was aware of 
the danger. 55 According to G. Wirth Rome dictated peace conditions that 
the Sasanian Empire perceived as threatening its very existence. 56 How- 
ever, such interpretations fail to see the defensive character of Diocletian's 

Moreover, we have to look at Sasanian interests from the perspective of 
the year 298 and not in light of the following events. Considering Narse's 
military defeat, what could he have expected from a peace treaty with Rome, 
in particular given the fact that his family was held captive by the enemy? His 
goal for the negotiations was the release of the royal prisoners, and in return 
he seems to have been prepared to accept any reasonable terms. Diocletian's 
demands must therefore be regarded as moderate and restrained. Only if 
the emperor had acted differently by claiming more Persian territory or had 
even refused to release the prisoners —which, considering Valerian's death in 
Sasanian captivity not long before, might have been considered an option — 
could one indeed talk of repressions and a treaty that bore the seeds for a new 
war. As it was, Narse achieved his main goal in the negotiations, the return 
of the captives, and from a Sasanian perspective this was a success as much 
as the fact that Rome waived territorial claims. Narse certainly accepted 
terms that entailed significant strategic and economic disadvantages for the 
Sasanian Empire but in view of the situation in the year 298 this had been 

An analysis of the peace treaty of 298 57 should also point to the fact that in 
spite of the military and diplomatic defeat the dignified role of the Persian 
king and the equality between the 'King of kings' and the emperor were 
respected. Rome acknowledged the sovereignty of the defeated Sasanian 
ruler. 58 Likewise, in light of his defeat Narse gave up Sasanian plans for a 
world empire. Towards the end of the third century each of the two powers 
therefore respected the might of the opponent both on a military and a 
diplomatic level. 

5S Klein 1977: 185 and Barcelo 1981: 74. 5 Wirth 1980/1: 336—7. 

57 Winter 1988: 208—15. 5§ Ziegler 1964: 145 and Chrysos 1976: 1—60. 

18 The peace treaty 0/363 131 

18: The peace treaty of 363 between Jovian and Sapur II 

For the most part, Rome's territorial gains and corresponding strategic and 
economic advantages that resulted from the foedus of 298 were lost when 
Sapur II and Jovian concluded a new peace in 363. S9 This time it was the 
Roman emperor who — in light of his crushing military defeat — had to 
agree to more or less all conditions for peace named by Sapur II. For Rome, 
losing important strategic positions and cities meant considerable loss of 
prestige. Many and varied sources ranging from chroniclers and historians 
to poets, orators and theologians reveal how Rome struggled with this 
situation, both historically and ideologically 60 We owe the most elaborate 
account to the eyewitness Ammianus Marcellinus, who was an officer in 
the Roman army at the time and participated in a number of wars during 
his lifetime. 

Ammianus Marcellinus xxv.j.9-14 

(9) But the king insisted on demanding what, as he called it, was his and what 
had been taken away a long time ago by Maximianus 61 but really, as the situation 
required, for our release 62 five regions beyond the Tigris: Arzanene, Moxoene, Zab- 
dikene and also Rehimene and Karduene together with fifteen fortresses, Nisibis 
as well as Singara and the Castra Maurorum, 6 ' a very convenient fortification. (10) 
And although it would have been ten times better to fight than to hand over any 
of these, the many flatterers put the timid emperor under pressure by bringing 
up the dreaded name of Procopius 64 and predicting that if he, after learning of 
Julian's death, returned with a fresh army, which he commanded, he would easily 
and without opposition overthrow the government. (11) Without hesitation the 
emperor, greatly inflamed by these persistent and dangerous remarks, handed over 
everything they asked for 6s and he barely made sure that Nisibis and Singara came 
under Persian control without their inhabitants and that the Romans from the 
fortresses that were to be handed over were allowed to return to our protection. 

59 For an analysis of this foedus of 363 see ibid.: 25—60; Blockley 1984: 34—7 and Chrysos 1993: 165—202. 
See Chrysos 1993: 166—7; Chrysos lists the testimonies related to the peace treaty. 

61 Sapur II has Narse's defeat against Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus in 298 in mind (6), which 
resulted in the peace concluded at Nisibis (17). 

62 With these words Ammianus Marcellinus refers to the difficult situation of the Roman army, which 
was still situated in the enemy's territory when Julian died and exposed to the continuing Sasanian 

6? This important Roman fortification in Mesopotamia, a two days 1 march away from Dara, is men- 
tioned by the author elsewhere (xvm.6.9) and also by Procopius {Aed. 11. 4); see Ball 1989: 7—18 and 
2003: 80-1. 

64 This is the usurper Procopius, a relative of the emperor Julian, who had been a general in his Persian 
campaign and on whom Julian was said to have conferred the imperial title; on 28 September 365 
he had himself proclaimed emperor in Constantinople but in May of the following year he was 
defeated by the emperor Valens. 
5 Eutropius (x.17.3) and Festus (29) also claim that Jovian showed more concern for the preservation 
of his rule than for the interests of the empire. 

132 4 The diplomatic solutions 

(12) In addition there was another dreadful and shameful condition, namely that 
after the conclusion of these negotiations, our longstanding and faithful friend 
Arsaces, if he asked for it, should not be given help against the Persians. This was 
designed with a double purpose, so that a man who with the emperor's instruction 
had devastated Chiliocomum 156 would be punished and that there would be the 
opportunity immediately after to invade Armenia without opposition. This is why 
later the same Arsaces was captured alive and the Parthians under dissensions and 
turmoils seized the longest stretch of Armenia, 67 which borders Media, as well as 
Artaxata. 68 (13) After this shameful peace had been sealed distinguished men were 
given as hostages on both sides so that nothing was done contrary to the agreement 
during the truce . . . 

(14) Thus a peace of thirty years was concluded and sealed by sacred oaths . . . 

The majority of ancient authors judge the treaty of 363 as one of the most 
unfortunate treaties that Rome ever concluded with a foreign power. 69 
Although Ammianus Marcellinus tends to be critical of the emperor Jovian, 
his account reveals a balanced view. We learn that the agreement of 363 
cancelled important stipulations of the foedus of 298, which had been dis- 
advantageous for the Sasanians. From a Roman perspective there was a clear 
loss of territories that had formed an integral part of the empire. Losing 
much of north-eastern Mesopotamia, in particular the cities Nisibis and 
Singara, had an immediate effect on Rome's prestige. Ammianus Marcelli- 
nus describes in detail the exodus of the inhabitants of Nisibis and the 
take-over by the Persians. 70 The urgency of his account reveals how much 
significance contemporaries attributed to the event and how important the 
city was for Roman security and trade. 71 

According to the wording of the treaty Nisibis and Singara had to be 
handed over 'without their inhabitants' {sine incolis), which means the cities 
were taken over 'naked' by their new rulers. 72 Apparently the inhabitants 
of the two cities were to be spared captivity and deportation. 73 Eutropius 
and Festus, who composed their breviaria ab urbe condita shortly after the 
events, describe the surrender of Nisibis as a unique event in all of Rome's 
history. 74 

66 Chiliocomum was a fertile region north of Karduene; cf also Amm. xxm.3.5 and xxiv.8.4. 

67 On Armenia's and Arsaces' fate during the reign of Sapur II see 26. 

68 This is the capital of Armenia, situated in the left banks of the Araxes river, and the modern Artashat 
southeast of Yerevan; Diod. xxxi. 17a states that Artaxios I built the city in 188 bc; cf. also Plut. Luc. 
31; Strabo xi.14.6 claims that Hannibal was involved in the foundation of the city. 

69 Fest. 29; Lib. Or. 1.134; 18.277-8; Agath. iv.26.6— 7; as can be expected, the Christian authors are 
polemical against the pagan emperor Julian and hold him responsible for the loss of Roman territories. 

70 Amm. xxv.9.1— 12; see also Teixidor 1995: 499-510. 

71 Turcan 1966: 875—90. 7Z Malal. 13.27 (p. 336). 

73 On the deportations of Roman prisoners to the Sasanian Empire see 36. 

74 Eutr. x.17; Fest. 29; in this context see also Bird 1986: 11-22. 

18 The peace treaty 0/363 133 

On first sight the regulation regarding the so called 'provinces beyond 
the Tigris' is ambiguous. According to Ammianus Marcellinus Sapur II 
obstinately demanded (petebat obstinatius) the return of the territories that 
had been ceded to the Romans in 298 but was not given all of these: 
apparently Sophanene and Ingilene remained under Roman influence. 75 
Although the author states that Jovian instantly complied with all demands 
it would appear that Sapur II eventually was prepared for concessions in 
363. After Jovian's death the Sasanians pursued an aggressive policy against 
Armenia, which suggests that Sapur II used the first opportunity to achieve 
with arms what he had not accomplished in 363 (2.6). The two sides failed 
in their attempt to come to an understanding with regard to the status of 
the traditional 'bone of contention' Armenia; the stipulation that Armenia 
henceforth was not to receive Western support did not bring about a long 
term solution to the problem. 7 Sapur II adhered to what was spelled out in 
the treaty of 363 only as long as Jovian was alive. With the emperor's death 
Persian attempts to conquer Armenia began and before the end of Sapur 
II's reign an agreement was reached between the two great powers that 
envisaged the actual partition of Armenia. Shortly after, this was confirmed 
by a formal agreement. 77 

Our sources do not explicitly mention that the foedus of 363 targeted 
economic considerations or those relating to trade. However, the nego- 
tiations regarding the Mesopotamian centres of trade and the influence 
in Armenia have to be viewed in such a context. 78 The clause that stip- 
ulated the surrender of Nisibis 'eliminated the Roman monopoly of the 
income from the trans-borderia Nisibis'. 79 From the Syriac chronicle of 
Joshua the Stylite, 80 which was composed in Edessa at the beginning of the 
sixth century, we learn that the Sasanian king Balas (484—8) approached 
the Roman emperor Zeno asking him for financial support for his war 
against the Hephthalites. Complaining that the taxes of Nisibis granted to 
Persia many years before were high enough, 81 the emperor refused to 
pay any money to Balas although his predecessor Peroz (459—84) had 
received such payments. 82 According to Joshua the Stylite it was agreed 
in 363 that the Persians would take possession of Nisibis for 120 years 

75 Chrysos 1976: 24; see the commentary by Paschoud 1971-89: 216-20 on Zos. ill. 31 and Chrysos 1993: 


76 On the 'Armenia clause' of the treaty of 363 see Chrysos 1976: 32—6; Blockley 1984: 36; 1987: 223-6 
and Seager 1996: 275-874. 

77 Cf. p. 185 n. 56. ?8 Winter 1987: 58-62. 79 Blockley 1984: 36. 
80 See 26, esp. pp. 186-7. 8l los. Styl. 18. S2 Ibid. 9. 

134 4 The diplomatic solutions 

but that the city would then be returned to its previous masters. 83 This 
phase ended while Zeno was emperor. When the Sasanians refused to 
hand over the city new disputes arose. The financial loss incurred by 
the outstanding taxes remained an issue of contention and were at least 
in part responsible for the attitude of the Byzantine emperor Zeno 


The so called 'Romance of Julian', written by a monk from Edessa and 
generally dubious as a historical source, contains an interesting remark in 
this context. 84 The anonymous author states that Jovian agreed to hand 
over Nisibis for 100 years and that during this period no Christians were 
persecuted in the Sasanian Empire. 85 The two Syriac sources agree that the 
clauses of 363 were limited to a fixed period of time. According to Ammianus 
Marcellinus the peace was concluded for thirty years. 86 It is possible that 
this was intended to be a time span of 'one generation' and the expected 
lifetime of the Roman emperor Jovian, who in 363 was thirty years old; he 
adhered to the terms of the treaty until his death. The discussions regarding 
the foedus of 363 that arose during the fifth century illustrate that the time 
limit was not simply a diplomatic formula but that it was a real aspect of 
the treaty which could indeed cause problems later. 87 

In any case, the time limit assigned a somewhat provisional character 
to the treaty that had been concluded between Jovian and Sapur II. Its 
clauses were not necessarily interpreted as binding and definitive. Given 
the territorial losses that Rome suffered, this must undoubtedly be regarded 
as a success for Jovian. It would not appear to be justified, and not even 
in light of the ceding of Roman territories, to talk about a 'shameful and 
humiliating peace' for Rome. 88 Although Ammianus Marcellinus tries hard 
to criticise the Roman emperor for his wrong behaviour in the year 363, he 
does not fail to notice that during the peace negotiations Jovian was above 
all interested in securing the release of his troops {pro redemptione nostra). 
After Julian's military catastrophe (8) it must indeed have been Jovian's 
primary goal to see his army withdraw unharmed by Sasanian attacks. 89 
He was able to achieve this goal by obligating Rome in the way discussed 

3 Ibid. 7; on the questionable historical accuracy of this passage see Luther 1997: 99—101. 

84 Luther 1997: 100. 

85 Noldeke 1874: 285; see also ibid.: 284—92 for a detailed summary of the content and critical com- 
mentary (on the basis of Hoffmann 1880 and Wright 1872: no. 918); see also Drijvers 1994: 201-14. 
Zos. III. 31. 1 also mentions a peace of thirty years. 

87 Chrysos 1993: 186. 8S Agath. iv.26.7. 8? Cf. Ehling 1996: 186-91. 

ip The peace treaty of 422 135 

19: The peace treaty of 422 between Theodosius II and 
Bahrain V Gor 

The testimonies dealing with the foedus of 422 90 pay much more attention 
to the circumstances of this diplomatic event than the actual content of 
the treaty. The Greek historian of Syriac descent Malalas, who wrote the 
oldest surviving Byzantine universal chronicle, 91 tells us about the following 
remarkable suggestion, which Bahram V (420—39) made so that a peace 
could be reached between the great powers. 

John Malalas xiv.23 (p. 364) 

In this year, the Persian king Bahram (V) advanced in order to fight a war with 
the Romans. 92 When the Roman emperor learned about this he appointed the 
patrician Procopius as magister militum per Orientem and sent him out with an 
army to fight the war. When Procopius was about to open battle the Persian 
king proposed the following to him. 'If there is one man in your entire army 
who can fight in single combat one Persian, whom I choose, I shall make peace 
immediately and in all respect for fifty years and shall give the customary gifts.' 
When this had been agreed upon, the Persian king chose from the unit of the so- 
called 'immortal ones' 93 a Persian named Adrazanes and the Romans a certain Goth 
named Areobindus, a comes foederatorum. The two stepped forward, mounted and 
fully armed. According to Gothic custom, Areobindus also carried a lasso. The 
Persian attacked first with his lance; Areobindus turned to the right, threw his 
lasso at him, forced him off his horse and killed him. After this the Persian king 
concluded a peace. When Areobindus after his victory returned to Constantinople 
together with his general Procopius, the emperor thanked him and appointed him 

It is very unlikely that Malalas' story is authentic and that such events led 
to the end of the Byzantine-Sasanian War in the year 422. 94 The motif of 
the duel on horseback, which had a long tradition in Iranian culture, was 
exceptionally popular in the Sasanian period, when it followed very strict 
rules and carried moral overtones. 95 Numerous visual representations, for 
example that of the controversy between Valerian and Sapur I (5), confirm 

90 Apart from the sources mentioned here see Marc. Com. a. 422; Socr. HE vii.20— 1. 

91 For an English translation and commentary see Jeffreys et al. 1986; on Malalas and his work see also 
Jeffreys and Croke and Scott 1990. 

92 Hostilities began in the year 421; from a Roman perspective the battle of 6 September 421 (cf. Marc. 
Com. a. 421.4) was a success and led to peace in the following year; cf. Luther 1997: 106—7. 

93 In particular the Sasanian cavalry with its heavy armour impressed the West tremendously; cf. Amm. 
xxni. 6. 83; xxiv.6.8; Proc. BP 1. 14.44 al so cans these Persian elite units the 'immortal ones'; on the 
Sasanian army in general see Wiesehofer 1994: 262—5 and 379. 

94 On these events see Luther's commentary on Ios. Styl. 8 (Luther 1997: 106—7). 

95 Cf. Wiesehofer 1994; 265. 

136 4 The diplomatic solutions 

that the duel symbolised a particular outcome of a historical confrontation. 
Differing from Malalas, the Byzantine historian Procopius describes the 
events as follows. 

Procopius, De Bello Persico 1.2.11-1$ 

(11) When Theodosius had grown up and reached a certain age and Yazdgard 
(I) had died because of an illness, the Persian king Bahram (V) entered Roman 
territory with a large army; however, he did not inflict any harm but without 
actually having done anything returned to his own country in the following way. 

(12) The emperor Theodosius happened to send the magister militum per Orientem 
Anatolius as ambassador to the Persians, all by himself. As soon as he was very close 
to the army of the Medes, he, on his own, dismounted his horse and on foot went 
up to Bahram. (13) When Bahram saw him he asked those present who this man 
was who was approaching him. They responded that he was the Roman general. 
(14) Struck by this extraordinary gesture of honour the king himself turned and 
drove back his horse, and the entire Persian army followed. (15) Back in his own 
country he regarded the ambassador with utmost respect and concluded the peace 
just as Anatolius had asked him to, that is under the condition that neither of the 
two parties would build any new fortress on their territory in the border area of the 
other. After they had come to this agreement both sides went about their domestic 
affairs as they liked. 

According to Procopius Bahram V was impressed when Theodosius II (408— 
50) sent the high ranking magister militum per Orientem as ambassador 
to him; even more impressed by the ambassador's respectful gestures he 
decided to withdraw his troops and to conclude a peace. The author seems 
to get the events of 422 confused with new hostilities during the reign 
of Yazdgard II (439-57). 9<5 It was not before this war that the influential 
Anatolius, who held the supreme command in the East from 433 to around 
446, played an important role and was largely responsible for renewing the 
peace of 422. 97 However, Procopius' account nicely illustrates the crucial 
impact of diplomatic interaction between the two powers. Codes of honour 
and gestures of mutual respect were important factors bearing an impact 
on decisions of war and peace. In this context cross-cultural understanding 
was necessary and, surprisingly, worked on several levels. 

Do either Malalas' or Procopius' episodes reveal the actual outcome of 
the war? As far as it mattered, one may speculate that the result of the duel 
in Malalas and Bahram's compliance with Anatolius' wishes in Procopius 

9 Procopius' account is most likely based on the work that Priscus composed during the fifth century. 

It is possible that Procopius intentionally shortened his source and 'merged' both wars in order to 

streamline his narrative; cf. Veh 1970: 459. 
97 On the chronology of the peace of 422 and that of 441 see Luther 1997: 101-8. 

ip The peace treaty of 422 137 

suggest that the Romans had the upper hand in the fighting. 98 Both sources 
agree that it was the Sasanian king who sought peace. Bahram's desire to 
come to a quick settlement with Byzantium may be linked to the rise 
of the Hephthalites, who became the greatest danger for the Sasanians 
during the course of the fifth century (10). The sources do not inform us 
about the content of the peace treaty of 422. As the issue of the Christians 
had triggered the war in the year 421" it is not surprising that Bahram V 
had to grant the freedom of their religion to the Christians in the Sasanian 
Empire. In turn, the Zoroastrians in the Byzantine Empire were allowed 
to practise their religion — according to K. Schippmann this represents a 
concession without any practical value. 100 However, Priscus mentions that 
around 465 a Sasanian embassy to the emperor Leo I (457—74) complained 
that the fire cult of the Magians who lived on Byzantine territory was 
impaired, an accusation that was rejected by Leo (2.7 Priscus frg. 41. 1). 
It is likely that in 422 both sides agreed to payments for the defence of 
the Caucasus region. In 441, when these were in arrears, Yazdgard II once 
more advanced into Byzantine territory 101 In the same year a new peace 
was agreed upon, which envisaged mutual support in times of crisis and 
financial aid for the Sasanians. 102 

In the context of 422 we do not hear about any territorial changes or 
regulations regarding the borders. This corresponds to the fact that neither 
side had been able to make major conquests. The mutual obligation not to 
build new fortifications close to the border was, as indicated above, part of 
the treaty of 441. However, we can expect that already in 422 there was an 
interest in reducing the tensions caused by the opponent's armed presence 
in the border regions that could lead to open conflict. This was also achieved 
by an agreement not to enter into relations with the opponent's Arabian 
allies. 103 

The peace was concluded for a remarkably long period, which is symp- 
tomatic of the general detente that can be observed between West and East 
during the fifth century. Whereas Malalas remarks that Bahram V agreed to 

9 According to Socr. HEv\i.zi.% the empress Eudoxia composed a poem that was recited during the 

celebration of the victory. 
99 Marc. Com. a. 420, 3. IO ° Schippmann 1990: 42. 

101 Marc. Com. a. 441, 1; on the possible reasons for this war see Luther 1997: 103 n. 21, who points 

to a new wave of Christians escaping into Roman territory and an unsuccessful Persian request for 

their return. 
101 Ios. Styl. 8; on the problems concerning the shared defence of the unsettled Caucasus region see 

the commentary on 27. 
103 Malchus, frg. 1; see Luther 1997: 107 n. 34; also Blockley 1992: 57—8; on the role the Arabian allies 

played within the strategies of the two great powers see in particular 24 and 25. 

138 4 The diplomatic solutions 

conclude a peace for fifty years, another source refers to a 'hundred-years- 
peace'. 104 Regardless of the exact time limit, the peace that was concluded 
between Bahram V and Theodosius II in 422 and renewed in 441 105 intro- 
duced a long peaceful period between both empires; this lasted until the 
beginning of the sixth century, when Kavadh I began to reform the Sasanian 
monarchy and reopened war against Byzantium. 

20: The peace treaty of 562 between Justinian and 
Xusro I Anosarvan 

The peace negotiations that led to the conclusion of this foedus and the 
actual treaty mark the highpoint of the diplomatic relations between the two 
rivalling powers. The narrative of Menander the Guardsman (Menander 
Protector) is a very comprehensive and reliable source. 10 Unfortunately, 
the work of this Byzantine historian, who continued the history of Agathias 
and covered the period between 558 and 582, has survived only in fragments. 
The author, trained in rhetoric and law, belonged to the entourage of the 
emperor Maurice (582—602) and thus was well informed of Byzantium's 
diplomatic relations during this period. He had access to the reports of the 
Roman ambassadors of the year 562, parts of which he quotes directly 107 
Menander's detailed report reflects the content and language of foreign 
diplomatic relations in this period. He names all the elements necessary for 
a successful conclusion of a. foedus, namely the special status of the envoys, 
the choice of the venue for the diplomatic negotiations, the ceremonial 
protocol, the options for communication and the way both rulers addressed 
each other. 108 

Menander Protector, frg. 6.1 (FHG iv, frg. 11) 

In the East and in Armenia a very successful peace seemed to exist, and in Lazika 
there was an armistice between the Romans and Persians. 109 As the peace had not 
been fully concluded, but both the Roman emperor and the Persian king had 
decided to strictly avoid warfare, Justinian sent the magister militum praesentalis 
Peter, so that he could discuss a comprehensive peace treaty with Xusro (I). After 
he had arrived in the border region of Dara and had explained to the king of 

104 Soz. ix.4.1. 

105 For the content of thefadus of 441 see also Blockley 1992: 61. 

10 For text and translation as well as a detailed commentary see Blockley 1985a. 

107 Men. Prot., frg. 12. 

108 For a detailed analysis of all aspects of this peace treaty see Rubin i960: 366—73 and Schmidt 2002: 

109 Before warfare between the powers had more or less ceased and in 557 the armistice was extended 
to include Lazika, which was still contested. 

20 The peace treaty of 562 139 

the barbaric peoples in the East that he was there in order to act as ambassador 
regarding a cease-fire on both sides, the Persians also sent an ambassador, who 
held the title Zich, which is the highest honour among the Persians, and whose 
name was Yazdgushnasp; he was the chamberlain of the king. 110 The ambassadors 
thus met in this way and as soon as the leaders of the surrounding areas had also 
gathered, they called an assembly. And the Roman ambassador Peter, who was an 
educated man in all respects and also had a good knowledge of the law, declared the 
following. 'Persians, we are here because the emperor of the Romans has sent us. 
It should be superfluous to say who our emperor is because his deeds have shown 
you the man. I am here now in order to transform the already existing peace into a 
permanent peace. But first I want to point out to you the character and greatness of 
the state with which you are going to conclude a peace. If, however, I appear to be 
talking big, looking towards what is advantageous for both states, do not take my 
long speech badly. For soon it will be clear that my words had to be said and I will 
be praised after deeds will have shown you the benefit of my words. You are now 
going to make peace with the Romans. It may suffice to say the word "Romans" 
because their name should reveal everything else. As you are going to conclude 
peace with such a powerful state and are not making minor decisions, you now 
have to make the best and most advantageous choices and in place of the insecure 
deeds of war welcome as a blessing the most secure thing for all humans, peace. 
And you should not be deceived by thinking that you were victorious over the 
Romans, boasting that you captured Antioch 111 and other Roman territories 

At this point the Roman ambassador elaborately points to the advantages 
of a peace. After Peter's speech the Persian ambassador makes his response 
in as many words and emphasises above all the greatness of the Persian 
Empire and the power of the Sasanian ruler Xusro I. 

'If he wants, Xusro is king over all men, and he does not wear the capture of Antioch 
like an ornament and as his prime conquest around his neck. Although what we 
have achieved appears frightful and awesome to you, we nevertheless think that it 
is not crucial to have been victorious over any of our enemies. For we have been 
raised to do precisely this, to be victorious, just as the other nations have learnt to 
be inferior to us. Having destroyed yet another Roman city does not ever tempt 
us to boast because what can be achieved without any difficulty does not deserve 
particular praise. And this shall suffice to refute the flood of your keen words. The 
Romans, however, are doing what they typically do, they ask for peace negotiations 
before the Persians do. Although you have been inferior to us, you have scored a 
victory by being fast, having been first in asking for peace. And in this way you 
conceal your lack of glory in wars, by seeming reasonable although you are really 
not in the position to sustain battle. If you had hesitated, we would have done this 
as victors. Nevertheless we start negotiations, as we value peace above everything 

110 'Zich' is a Persian family name; cf. Christensen 1944: 105 n. 3; the Greek sources frequently confuse 
Persian names and titles in this way. 

111 Cf. 13. 

140 4 The diplomatic solutions 

else. For it is a noble attitude to adjust one's behaviour to what is appropriate.' 
After the Zich had spoken these words the interpreters 112 on both sides translated 
both speeches and explained their meaning; many words were exchanged between 
the two sides, partly in order to gain an advantage, partly in order to boast and 
not to appear as the side who was not putting as much effort into the peace. 
The Persians demanded that a permanent peace be concluded, and also that they 
should be given an annual payment of gold by the Romans for not taking up arms. 
Moreover, they would only agree to lay down arms after they had received in one 
payment forty times, at least thirty times, the annual sum. The Romans in contrast 
wanted to conclude a treaty for a few years only and were not willing to pay for 
the peace. 113 This was discussed without agreement for a while and many words 
were exchanged, but finally they decided to conclude the peace for fifty years and 
that Lazika should be handed over to the Romans. The agreements should be firm 
and lasting and valid on both sides, both in the East and in Armenia, and also 
in Lazika itself, but under the condition that the Persians should receive for the 
peace an annual sum of 30,000 gold coins" 4 from the Romans. This was fixed in 
a way that the Romans paid in advance the sum for ten years, that is immediately 
for seven years and after the period of seven years without delay the sum for the 
remaining three years, and subsequently so that the Persians received the required 
sum annually. . . 

It was agreed that both rulers should provide the documents which are called 
sacrae litterae in Latin and which confirmed everything that had been established by 
the ambassadors. And immediately a proclamation of these agreements took place. 
In addition it was decided that the Roman emperor should produce a unilateral 
document which confirmed that the Romans would give the Persians the additional 
sum for three years after the end of the seventh year. The Persian king also had 
to give his written consent that, as soon as the Persians had received the required 
sum of gold for the three years, the Roman emperor would be given a letter 
of confirmation in this regard. The declaration of peace of the Roman emperor 
showed the customary prescript and is well known to us. The declaration of the 
Persian king, which was written in the Persian language, in Greek translation began 
like this: 'The divine, virtuous, peace loving, powerful Xusro, King of Kings, the 
fortunate and pious man, benefactor to whom the gods have given great fortune and 
a great kingdom, the giant among the giants, who was designated by the gods, to the 
emperor Justinian, our brother.' 1 ' 5 Thus the prescript but the actual declaration was 
the following. I shall give the precise wording because I think that this is necessary 
so that nobody can be suspicious claiming that by a change in wording some of the 

112 On the important role of interpreters in the ancient world see Herrmann and von Soden 1959: 

113 This passage reveals the fundamentally different interests pursued by the two sides during these and 
other peace negotiations. Whereas the Persians are always keen on financial advantages, in particular 
regular, long term revenues, in order to protect the borders and to finance their numerous campaigns, 
the Romans preferred a short term peace in order to avoid long term financial commitments. 

114 Giiterbock 1906: 62—5 discusses the question if the 30,000 gold coins were solidi; the solidus had 
been the most important gold nominal since Constantine the Great; see Brandt 1998: 126—7. 

115 The emperor and the King of kings also address each other as brothers on other occasions; cf. 34. 

20 The peace treaty of 562 141 

truth has been lost." 6 It read: 'We thank the brotherly gesture of the emperor for 
the peace between the two empires. We have instructed Yazdgushnasp, our divine 
chamberlain, and have given him full powers. Our brother the emperor has given 
instruction and power to Peter, the magister officiorum of the Romans, together 
with Eusebius to negotiate and to conclude the treaty. And the Zich and the man 
whom the Romans call magister and Eusebius together negotiated the peace and 
made agreements; they have concluded the peace for fifty years and all have sealed 
the statements. According to what the Zich and the magister of the Romans and 
Eusebius have decided, we now confirm the peace and abide by this.' This was 
the wording. The declaration of the Roman emperor was similar but without the 
prescript that the Persian royal letter showed. And in this way they ended their 
conversations. . . 

After this and many other matters had been argued, the terms of the fifty 
years peace were put down in writing in the Persian and the Greek languages, 
and the Greek declaration was translated into Persian, the Persian into Greek. 
On the Roman side the magister militum praesentalis Peter, Eusebius and others 
ratified the treaty, on the Persian side Yazdgushnasp, Surenas and others. After the 
declarations from both sides had been fixed, they were compared to see whether 
they corresponded in wording and meaning. 117 Every declaration of the peace treaty 
was read out. The following points were laid down: 

(1) The Persians, Huns, Alans and other barbarians should not have access to the 
Roman Empire through the pass, which is called Tzon, 118 and the Caspian Gates, 
nor should the Romans send an army against the Persians in this area or in any 
other border areas of the Persian Empire. 119 

(2) The Saracens, who were allies of both states, should abide by the agreements 
and neither should the Saracens allied with the Persians take up arms against the 
Romans nor those allied with the Romans take up arms against the Persians. 

(3) Roman and Persian merchants of all kinds of goods, and suppliers of this 
type, should conduct their business according to old custom at the determined 
customs posts. 

(4) Ambassadors and public couriers travelling to Roman or Persian territory 
should be treated according to their rank and in the appropriate way, should 
receive due attention and not be impeded by any means. They should be allowed 
to exchange the goods they were carrying without impediment and without any 
impost. 120 

(5) It was agreed: Saracen and other barbarian merchants should not travel 
through either of the two empires via unknown routes but travel via Nisibis and 

116 With these words Menander Protector tries to underline his own credibility. See Blockley 1985a: 294 
n. 39, 'Menander appears to be suggesting that he himself had translated the Pahlavi, but perhaps he 
merely means that he transcribed the archival translation which he knew would be word-for-word.' 

117 For comments on these rather bureaucratic and cautious proceedings see Miller 1971: 72 n. 69. 

118 Marquart 1901: 106 identified Tzon with the pass of Derbend, which was the route of Hunnic 
invasions through the Caucasus; see also Gropp 1977; 1619-25; Kettenhofen 1996b: 13—19. 

119 For the crucial importance of the Caucasus region for East— West relations see 17. 

120 -pi^ trat J[ n g activities of the diplomats may have been a means to cover the costs of the embassies; 
cf. De Ste. Croix 1991: 129—30. 

142 4 The diplomatic solutions 

Dara, nor should they enter foreign territory without an official permit. If they 
nevertheless dared to or, rather, engaged in smuggling, and were caught by border 
officials together with their merchandise, whether Assyrian or Roman, they should 
be handed over and suffer the prescribed punishment. 

(6) Individuals who defected during the war, either from the Romans to the 
Persians or from the Persians to the Romans, should, if they wanted, be allowed 
to return to their homes and they should not be impeded in any way. However, 
those who defected during the peace on both sides, that is those who fled, should 
not be received by the other side but in any case, even against their will, be handed 
over to the state from which they fled. 121 

(7) Those who filed a complaint against a citizen of the other state should settle 
the dispute according to the law either by those who had suffered damage or by 
representatives in the border areas before officials of both states. This was to make 
sure that the aggressor made amends for the damage. 

(8) It was decided: henceforth the Persians should not complain to the Romans 
regarding the fortification of Dara 122 but in the future neither state should erect 
fortifications, that is fortify any place in the border areas with a wall so that this 
would not lead to accusations of trouble-making and cause a breach of the treaty. 

(9) Neither of the two states should attack or make war on any people or territory 
subject to the other but without suffering harm or distress they should stay where 
they were so that these could also enjoy the peace. 123 

(10) They should not occupy Dara with more units than necessary for the defence 
of the city. Nor should the magister militum per Orientem have his seat here in order 
that this would not lead to incursions and raids on Persian territory. It was decided 
that if such harm was done the commander at Dara should take the responsibility 
for the offence. 

(11) If a city inflicted damage on another city or harmed it in any other way, 
not according to martial law or with an army but by tricks and secretive theft - 
for there are shameless people who do such things, which could then create a 
pretext for war, such cases should be thoroughly investigated and judges 124 from 
the border regions of both empires should deal with them. It was agreed that if 
these were not able to put an end to the misfortune that the border cities inflicted 
on one another the cases should be referred to the commander in the East; 125 if 
the dispute were not settled within six months and the violated party had not 
received compensation the offender should be liable to the violated party for a 

121 In contrast to Guterbock 1906: 80—3, who assumes that those defectors were members of the upper 
social milieu, Blockley 1985a: 257 n. 55 refers to the shared interest of both states 'to control the 
ordinary people in a time of population shortage'. 

122 Justinian's comprehensive building activities both in Dara and along the Roman Eastern frontier 
(cf. Proc. Aed. 11. 3) had frequently led to discrepancies between the great powers. 

123 This clause reveals once more an interest in a comprehensive settlement, which would include 
territories such as Armenia and Lazika. 

124 Guterbock 1906: 88 assumes that the dikastai were local legal magistrates; in contrast see Blockley 
1985a: 258 n. 61, 'I prefer either to take SiKaaTa/ = indices, the general late-Latin term for provincial 
governors. . . or to view them as specially appointed judicial commissioners.' 

125 This is the magister militum per Orientem. 

20 The peace treaty of 562 143 

double indemnity. If the dispute were still not settled at this point, the violated 
party should send an embassy to the ruler of the offender. If the violated party had 
not been compensated by the ruler within a fixed one-year period and had not 
received the double indemnity, the peace treaty would be broken with regard to 
this agreement. 

(12) This concerned petitions for divine support and prayers: that the god be 
gracious and an ally forever to the one who loved the peace, opponent and enemy 
to the insincere and the one intending to violate the oaths. 

(13) The agreements should be valid for fifty years and the peace should last for 
fifty years, the year being reckoned according to old fashion that is ending after 
365 days. 126 As mentioned already, it was also determined that declarations were 
issued by both rulers expressing approval regarding everything the ambassadors 
had negotiated. 

When these terms had been agreed upon, the so-called sacrae litterae were 
exchanged. . . 

After all this had been formally agreed, the two separate declarations were handed 
to the magistrates in charge, who compared their wording and meaning and imme- 
diately made copies of both. The actual treaty was also folded and stamped with a 
seal and other customary Persian symbols and with the signet-rings of the ambas- 
sadors as well as those of the twelve interpreters, six on the Roman side and as many 
Persian ones. They exchanged the documents. The Zich handed the Persian one to 
Peter and Peter handed the Greek one to the Zich. In addition the Zich received a 
Persian copy identical to the Greek one, without any seal, which was supposed to 
remind him, and Peter respectively. After that they parted, both leaving the border 
area, and the Zich travelled back to his homeland. 


As had been the case when the foedus of 298 was concluded, on both 
sides high ranking officials and experienced diplomats, the magister militum 
praesentalis and the chamberlain of the Sasanian king, were in charge of the 
negotiations. They were authorised to act with full power. The ambassadors 
met in a neutral place by the border, close to Dara, so that neither of the 
parties was forced into a disadvantageous position even before negotiations 
began. 127 At the beginning of the talks both sides made an effort to praise 
the greatness and power of their own empire; then they worked towards an 
understanding regarding the basic conditions for a peace. 

These concerned above all the length 128 and scale of a settlement, and 
in addition a solution to the Lazic question. After long discussions it was 
agreed that the peace between the two empires should last for fifty years 

126 The Roman and Persian calendars had to be synchronised; see Doblhofer 1955: 215-16. 

127 On the significance of the choice of venue in the context of Sasanian— Roman peace negotiations 
see Winter 1994: 589-607. 

IzS On the payments agreed upon in 562 see Guterbock 1906: 61—5 and Blockley 1985b: 285 n. 61. 

144 4 The diplomatic solutions 

and that it should apply to all territories, including Armenia and Lazika. In 
the past, continuing military confrontations in these regions had prevented 
a secure peace over and over again. By dropping all claims in this area, the 
Sasanians did their part to solve the Lazic question; in turn, Byzantium 
had to agree to substantial monetary payments the amount and conditions 
of which were a point of contention until, finally, a compromise agreeable 
to both sides was reached. As soon as these basic conditions for the peace 
had received mutual consent, the respective documents were produced and 
sent to both royal courts for ratification. Thereby the foundations for the 
conclusion of a peace treaty were laid. 

After that, further meetings and negotiations between the ambassadors of 
both empires took place so that all details regarding a permanent settlement 
could be discussed. The official peace document was composed in Greek 
and Persian. It is remarkable how much care was used to make this process 
as accurate as possible. Altogether twelve interpreters were to make sure that 
each translation had the same meaning and would not allow for different 
interpretations. The respective documents were compared word for word 
and sentence for sentence. 129 Menander the Guardsman claims to have 
quoted verbatim the document written by Xusro I (531—79) in the Persian 
language and addressed to his 'brother' Justinian (527—65). 

Territorial terms 

Altogether the Byzantine historian lists fourteen articles of agreement. Sev- 
eral points concern the territorial scope of the peace, which was intended 
to apply not only to the territories of the Sasanian and Byzantine Empires 
but in the interest of stability to include further areas. The regulation in 
article nine according to which the client kingdoms on both sides should 
not be attacked refers primarily to the Caucasian regions of Iberia and 
Albania, which had often been the cause of renewed or continued mili- 
tary confrontations and were the subject of existing agreements (17). The 
Arabian tribes fighting on both sides, namely the Lahmids, who were allies 
of the Sasanians, and the Ghassanids, who acted on behalf of Byzantium, 
were addressed in the second article of the treaty 130 Considering the polit- 
ical as well as military significance of these vassal states for the Sasanian— 
Byzantine confrontations in particular during the sixth century (2.5), this 
article makes a lot of sense. The Roman and Persian rulers were to enforce 
peace among the vassals. This term, however, could have been expected to 

129 On the oral and written components in the formation of a treaty see Taubler 1964: 318-72. 

130 Shahid 1988: vn. 

20 The peace treaty of 562 145 

cause problems because the Arab leaders were not directly involved in the 


Further clauses concerned the protection of shared border areas. As conflicts 
had arisen in particular with regard to this point, the very first article of 
the foedus of 562 addressed the main issue, namely the protection of the 
Caucasian passes from invasions of the Huns, Alans and other barbarians 
(2.7). From this point onwards the Sasanians alone were responsible for 
the defence. In turn, the Romans agreed to refrain from any future troop 
movements in the Caucasus. Moreover, articles eight and ten addressed the 
situation of the border city Dara, a matter that was extremely important 
from a Roman perspective (12). I31 In breach of earlier treaties Justinian had 
fortified Dara to the extent that Procopius decribed the city as a bulwark for 
the entire Byzantine East. 1 ' 2 The Sasanians now accepted Dara's paramount 
status as a fortress, insisting, however, that the number of troops stationed at 
Dara would be reduced and that the magister militum per Orientem moved 
his seat from there. In addition, both sides agreed that in the future already 
existing border cities should not be fortified and offer reasons for wars. 

Trade and customs duties 

'Economic' clauses can be found also in this treaty 133 Three articles address 
economic and trade-related issues but the decisions do not diverge from 
the principles spelled out earlier (17 and 28). According to article three 
of the treaty, just like before, Sasanian and Byzantine merchants, who 
had to respect that there was a ban on the import and export of certain 
goods, were allowed to import goods at a few official customs posts only. 
As reference was made to previous agreements, Nisibis, Kallinikos and 
Dvln (instead of Artaxata) 134 must have kept their preferred status as trade 
centres. Apparently, the fortress of Dara, which has already been mentioned, 

131 On the negotiations concerning Dara see Blockley 1985a: 71-2. 

132 In general on the importance of Dara see Proc. BP 1. 10. 13— 16; 1. 16.6-8; see Crow 1981: 12-20; also 
Croke and Crow 1983: 143—59 (— Croke 1992: xi) and Whitby 1986a: 717—35 and 1986b: 737—83; on 
the fortification of border cities and fortresses see Wagner 1985: 68—9. 

135 Synelli 1986: 96—8 and Winter 1987: 67-72. 

134 During the first half of the fifth century the Armenian metropolis (of trade) Artaxata lost more 
and more of its significance. Its neighbour Dvln, which was primarily inhabited by trades- and 
craftsmen, became the new political and economic centre. According to Proc. BP 11.25.3 there were 
numerous merchants who came from India, Iberia and all of Persia as well as from territories that 
were under Roman control in order to engage in trade at Dvln; on the importance of the city as a 
place of trade see Pigulevskaja 1969: 153 and Manandian 1965: 81—2 and 87—8; with a comprehensive 
bibliography Kettenhofen 1996a: 616—19. 

146 4 The diplomatic solutions 

acquired the same rights. Byzantium gained considerable fiscal advantages 
from the fact that now a further place within the Roman realm would be 
dedicated to the exchange of goods. When the Sasanians conquered Dara 
in 573, the Roman emperor intended to buy Dara back or to win the city 
back in some other way. 135 The Sasanian ruler, however, did not want to 
return the city under any circumstances and announced that he would never 
withdraw from Dara, or from Nisibis. 136 The Persians were not willing to 
give up the financial advantages that came with controlling the city. 

According to article four of the foedus ambassadors and those travelling 
for reasons of state did not have to pay any customs duty for the goods 
they brought with them and were not subject to any trade restrictions. 137 
A similar arrangement had existed in 408/9. However, the diplomats were 
allowed to stay on foreign territory only as long as necessary 138 They were 
thereby prevented from gathering information about the opponent (35). 
Article five stopped Saracen or other barbarian merchants from entering 
the Persian or Roman Empire via unknown roads. They were required 
to go straight to Nisibis or Dara and to obtain an official permit if they 
wanted to continue their journey from there. Any violation of these terms or 
customs fraud entailed legal proceedings. This article concerned merchants 
from Roman as well as Persian territories and also travellers from nations 
who were not allies of the great powers, such as tradesmen from South 
Arabia. 139 This stipulation was designed to stop the smuggling of goods 
as well as to eliminate any foreign competition for merchants at home 
and also to prevent Arab tradesmen from engaging in espionage. Above 
all the geographic conditions to the west and south-west of the Euphrates, 
where the Syrian Desert represented the actual frontier between the empires, 
made any strict control of this border area impossible and increased mutual 
suspicion. Due to these circumstances, foreign trade and national security 
were politically linked in a way that was characteristic for the economic 
relations between the Sasanian and the Byzantine Empire, a link that is 
nicely illustrated by the relevant articles of the foedus of 562. 

Fugitives of war, reparations, guarantee clauses 

Further points dealt with the treatment of the fugitives of war, the payment 

of reparations as well as the observance of the treaty 140 Article six permits 

'-" Menander Protector, frg. 47 (FHG iv 250). 

136 Ibid., frg. 55 (FHG iv 257). I37 Antoniadis-Bibicou 1963: 47-8. I38 Cod. lust, iv.63.4 (3). 

139 Contacts between the Sasanian Empire and South Arabia, which were primarily initiated by interests 
in trade, are attested already for the early Sasanian period; cf. Metzler 1982: 190. 

140 Giiterbock 1906: 80-3. 

20 The peace treaty of 562 147 

defectors to return without punishment. The treaty explicitly mentions, 
however, that this applied only to persons who had left their country during 
the war and not to future defectors so that these would not jeopardise 
home security by passing on information. The long period of war had 
seen many cases of unrest and raids among the population of the border 
regions concerned. The controversies between individuals and above all the 
conflicts between the border cities were to be investigated. According to 
articles seven and eleven the authorities in charge of the border areas were 
instructed to mediate in these cases and those responsible forced to pay 
damages. If an agreement could not be reached the matter was entrusted to 
higher authorities, which had to come to a decision by a fixed deadline. 141 
If the matter had not been settled at the final stage of appeal, which was 
the appeal to the ruler, this amounted to a breach of the treaty. 

Last but not least, the two parties included a 'religious guarantee clause' in 
order to make sure that the agreed terms would be observed and effective. If 
Menander the Guardsman uses the authentic words by which the peace was 
entrusted to divine protection, the treaty displays extremely careful wording 
also in this respect; the clause compelled both a Christian Byzantium and a 
Zoroastrian Persia to respect the agreement. The author makes no reference, 
however, to either hostages of high rank, who would customarily have been 
part of an official treaty of this type, 142 or to an oath sworn by each ruler. 


Who was the 'victor' of the foedus of 562 after all? On the one hand, Justinian 
cannot have been happy with the stipulated large payments, which showed 
the character of tributary payments and were bound to ruin his prestige. 
On the other hand, he could claim as a success that the important fortress of 
Dara was retained, that the Romans were freed from the financial burdens 
to do with the protection of the Caucasus passes and that the Sasanians were 
withdrawing from the territory of Lazika. From a Sasanian perspective it was 
a considerable loss to give up this strategically and economically important 
Black Sea region. 

Beyond throwing light on the question of how the balance of power 
was shifted the foedus and the actual treaty as transmitted by the Byzan- 
tine historian Menander the Guardsman serve as an excellent testimony 
to the intense diplomatic contacts and the high level of international rela- 
tions between Byzantium and the Persian Empire in the sixth century 143 
A survey of the individual points addressed in the treaty indicates that all 

141 Ziegler 1972: 427—42. I42 Lee 1991: 366—74. I43 Verosta 1965: 153—6. 

148 4 The diplomatic solutions 

areas of concern that had surfaced at some point since the beginnings of 
Roman— Sasanian relations in the third century are mentioned. The foedus 
of 562 therefore not only reflects some diplomatic effort to end the military 
conflict between Byzantium and the Sasanian Empire during the reigns of 
Xusro I and Justinian but also gives us detailed insight into the intensity 
of relations. 144 It was a serious attempt to find a comprehensive solution to 
all controversial topics in order to stabilise the situation between the two 
powers. Be that as it may, although the peace was concluded for fifty years 
it did not last very long. By 572 West and East were at war again. 

21: The peace treaty of 628 between Heraclius and Kavadh II Seme 

Immediately after he had succeeded to the throne, the Persian ruler Kavadh 
II Seroe (February — September 628) initiated peace negotiations with 
Heraclius (610-41). After his victory over Xusro II Parvez (590-628) and 
his advance all the way to Ktesiphon at the beginning of the year 628 the 
Byzantine emperor had decided to withdraw his troops. I4S From 11 March 
to 8 April 628 he stayed at Gandzak in Azerbaijan. 146 During these weeks he 
received a letter written by Kavadh II, in which the Persian ruler expressed 
his desire for peace and which is remarkable in many ways. The text was 
recorded in the so called Easter Chronicle, the Chronicon Paschale, which 
was composed by an unknown cleric from Constantinople between 631 and 
641. It represents one of the most important examples of Graeco-Christian 
chronography; originally the work covered the time span from Adam to 
the year 630 but the narrative is preserved only up to the year 628. In 
particular with regard to the seventh century the Chronicon Paschale is a 
valuable independent source because it includes numerous historical details 
and draws on many official documents. 147 

Chronicon Paschale a. 628 

Copy of the memorandum (written) by Kavadh, the most clement Persian king, 
who is also called Seroe, (addressed) to Heraclius, our most pious and god-protected 

From Kavadh Sadasadasach we are sending greatest joy to Heraclius, the most 
clement emperor of the Romans, our brother. 

To the most clement emperor of the Romans, our brother. 

144 Higgins 1941: 279—315; Scott 1992: 159—66. 

145 On the assassination of Xusro II Parvez, on the succession of Kavadh II and the events of the year 
628, which led to the final Roman victory over the Sasanian Empire, see Stratos 1968: 223—34. 

14 Schippmann 1990: 71. 

147 For a good introduction and English translation of the Greek text see Whitby and Whitby 1989. 

21 The peace treaty 0/628 149 

'Through fortunate divine providence we have been adorned with the great 
diadem and have gained possession of the throne of our fathers. 148 As we have 
therefore been deemed worthy by God of gaining such throne and rule, we have 
decided, if there is anything that benefits and serves mankind, to accomplish this 
in so far as possible, and we have, as it was proper, given generous instruction for 
this to be done. As God has designated us to hold such a great throne and such 
great rule, we have decided to release every man whom we have imprisoned for 
whatever reasons. And thereafter we ordered, if there is anything else that benefits 
and serves mankind and this state and that we were capable of ordering, also this 
and it has been done. And we made these decisions in order to live in peace and 
love with you, the emperor of the Romans, our brother, and the Roman state and 
with the other nations and other princes around us.' 

By addressing the Byzantine emperor as his brother the Sasanian king tries 
to emphasise the equal rank of both rulers. 149 In 590 Xusro II Parvez had 
approached the emperor Maurice (582-602) by using a comparable captatio 
benevolentiae in order to enforce his legitimate claims to the throne against 
the rebel Bahram Cobin. I5 ° Kavadh's remark that he owed his throne to God 
is also very deliberate. 151 The Sasanian king refers to a God in the singular, 
thereby paying respect to the Christian emperor and creating a favourable 
atmosphere for the impending peace negotiations. Similarly, in the year 
590 Xusro II had hoped that using a 'Christian vocabulary' 152 would help 
him with securing Byzantine support in his struggle for the throne. 

Considering the weakness of the Sasanian Empire and the military defeat 
it had just suffered in 628 Kavadh II had good reasons to evoke the familiar 
themes of the 'family of kings' and the 'legitimacy of rule'. 153 Moreover, 
he appealed to the Byzantine emperor's clemency and his desire for peace. 
He emphasises that he himself would do everything to benefit mankind, 
namely to release all prisoners, and that he wished to live in peace with all 
other nations. 

148 Kavadh had imprisoned his father Xusro II Parvez, who in spite of the military defeat had not been 
willing to conclude a peace with Byzantium; he then had his brothers assassinated and took over 
the throne in February 628 as Kavadh II Seroe. 

149 On this address see Oikonomides 1971: 269-81; the reader is reminded of the exchange of letters 
between Sapur II and Constantius II quoted in Ammianus Marcellinus; Rex regum Sapor, particeps 
siderum, frater Solis etLunae, Constantio Caesari fratri meo salutem plurimam dico. The corresponding 
beginning of the response letter reads: Victor terra marique Constantius semper Augustus fratri meo 
Sapori regi salutem plurimam dico (xvu. 5.3). Constantine the Great called Sapur II 'my brother' 
(Eus. v. Const. 4. 11); it is remarkable that in a letter to the wife of Xusro I Anosarvan the Byzantine 
empress Theodora also addressed her as 'sister 1 (Malal. 18.61 [p. 467]); for further references see 
Helm 1932; 385 n. 3; Dolger 1964: 60 points to the general reluctance of the Byzantine monarchy 
to acknowledge an equal status of any other power and speaks of an enormous concession to the 
Persian king. 

150 On the relationship between Xusro II Parvez and Maurice see Winter 1989a; 79—92. 

151 Whitby and Whitby 1989: 189 n. 491. 

152 Theoph. Simoc. iv.n. J " Winter 1989a: 72—92. 

150 4 The diplomatic solutions 

Kavadh II entrusted the memorandum to his Persian commander Phaiak 
and sent him to Heraclius' camp at Gandzak. 154 Unfortunately, Heraclius' 
response has not survived. 155 We owe a short summary to Nikephoros I, who 
was patriarch of Constantinople between 806 and 815 and whose earliest 
work, an account of the period between 602 and 769, incorporates many 
lost sources of the seventh and eighth centuries. According to Nikephoros 
Heraclius called Kavadh II his son and assured him that he would never 
deprive a king of his legitimate throne. The emperor proclaimed that Xusro 
II had received divine punishment, which he deserved, and that divine guid- 
ance was fostering reconciliation between himself and Kavadh. 156 Heraclius 
thus also expressed his desire for peace and offered terms that even from a 
Sasanian perspective were moderate and acceptable. 157 

The emperor entrusted the tabularius Eustanthios to work out the details 
of a peace treaty. After the Sasanian ambassador Phaiak had spent just under 
a week in the Roman camp Heraclius sent both to the court of Kavadh II. I?8 
Our sources do not reveal the exact terms of the foedus of 628. Only isolated 
notes and later events allow us to reconstruct the content of the treaty 159 
One important hint comes from Theophanes Confessor, who between 
810/11 and 814 continued the incomplete chronicle of his friend Georgios 
Synkellos and covers the period between 284 and 813. l6 ° His narrative is 
generally reliable and was a source for many later chroniclers. 

Theophanes, Chronographia 1, p. $2j (ed. C. de Boor) 

After peace had been concluded between Persians and Romans in this year, the 
emperor sent his own brother Theodore together with letters and men dispatched 
by Seroe, the Persian king, in order that they send back peacefully to Persia those 
Persians in Edessa and Palestine, Jerusalem and the remaining Roman cities and 
that these could pass through Roman territory without harm. The emperor, who 
had defeated Persia in six years, made peace in the seventh year and returned to 
Constantinople with great joy. 

We learn that Heraclius gave permission for all Persians who were still on 
Roman territory to make their way into Sasanian territory. He entrusted his 
brother Theodore with the supervision of this task. Apparently it had been 

154 Chr. pasch. a. 628. 

155 Cf. the attempts fot a testotation of the text in Oikonomides 1971: 269—81. 

156 Nikephotos 22B— 23B (p. 19-20 ed. de Boot); Mango 1990: 15. 

157 Sttatos 1968: 237 emphasises the modetate attitude of the Byzantine empetot, 'Hetaclios did not 
make the same mistake as Justinian. He neithet wished to humiliate not to weaken Petsia. He was 
aiming at testotation of the 591 ftontiets, as if to show that the Gteeks had no thought of conquest. 
This was why he immediately accepted the peace tetms offeted by Kavad, the new King of Petsia.' 

158 Chr. pasch. a. 628. I59 Rawlinson 1875: 535— 6 and 693— 4. l6 ° Mango and Scott 1997. 

21 The peace treaty of 628 151 

agreed that all Persian prisoners would be released and that the emperor 
would guarantee their safe return. 

There is no doubt that the terms of 628 primarily aimed at a restoration 
of the status quo ante bellum. The new borders would be those which 
had existed between the Byzantine and the Sasanian Empires before the 
beginning of the war in the year 602. The Persians had to withdraw from 
all territories they had conquered in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor 
and in Western Mesopotamia and had to return them to Byzantium. 161 
According to Theophanes the Persian troops left these areas during the first 
year of the reign of Kavadh II. 162 In addition, the Persians had to agree that 
they would release the captives they had deported to the Sasanian Empire 
from these areas. 3 

One further aspect must have been particularly important for Hera- 
clius, namely the return of the Holy Cross, which the Sasanians had car- 
ried off when they conquered Jerusalem in 614. 1 4 Its festive restoration 
in Jerusalem, probably in March 630, earned Heraclius great prestige and 
made it manifest to the world that a Christian Byzantium had triumphed 
over a Zoroastrian Sasanian Empire, and this triumph had been sealed by 
the^^wof628. 165 

161 Rawlinson 1875: 536. 

Theoph. Chron. am 6119 (p. 327 ed. de Boor); on the execution of the terms of the treaty see Stratos 
1968: 245-56. 

163 Theoph. Chron. am 6118 (p. 327 ed. de Boor). 

164 On the Sasanian conquest of Jerusalem see the references on p. 45 n. 171. 

165 See Stratos 1968: 245-56. 


Arabia between the great powers 

After the foundation of the Sasanian Empire in the year 224 the two powers 
had to deal with and administer an Arab world that was divided into 
three different groups. The first group was the Arab population in the 
Sasanian Empire, who had already lived in the Parthian kingdom during the 
Arsacid period and who now inevitably formed part of the Sasanian Empire. 
They settled in the eastern coastal area of the Persian Gulf, in northern 
Mesopotamia, where the desert fortress Hatra was the most important 
centre (map 1) and in southern Mesopotamia, where Hlra, which was 
located c. 100 miles to the west of the Sasanian capital Ktesiphon on the 
edge of the Arabian desert, had become a new centre (map 2). 1 The second 
group comprised the Arab population in the Roman Empire, and the third 
group was formed by the Arabs who lived beyond the Sasanian and Roman 
territories on the Arabian Peninsula. 

The following events and developments illustrate an Arabia policy' of 
the great powers that remained an important component of the foreign 
relations between Rome and the Sasanian Empire into the seventh century 
and that both powers designed in a similar way: the inhabitants of Hatra 
joining the Rome side after 224, the ambitious political activities of the 
trade metropolis in the Syrian desert, Palmyra, and finally the creation of 
a system of Arab vassal states. 2 

22: Hatra 

During the course of the Roman imperial period one caravan route, which 
took travellers through the steppes of central Mesopotamia to the north 

During the Muslim period a distinction was made between al-'Iraq (The South of Mesopotamia) 
and al-Gazira (The North of Mesopotamia). 

Funke 1996: 217-38 (esp. 225—35) discusses the role of individual Arab dynasts and dynasties in the 
political considerations of the rivalling powers and the systematic creation of vassal states; see also 
Parker 1986b; Shahid 1984a, 1984b and 1995a. 


22 Hatra 153 

and via Singara and Edessa to Zeugma and the river Euphrates, became 
exceptionally popular. This route was controlled by the desert stronghold of 
Hatra, which flourished especially during the course of the second century. 3 
Although Cassius Dio claims that Hatra was still insignificant during the 
reign of Trajan, neither large nor prosperous, a city in the middle of the 
desert and with little and bad water, 4 his statements somewhat disagree with 
Hatra's impressive temples that were built in the early imperial period. 5 
The idea that Hatra did not participate in any significant long-distance 
trade but owed its wealth to its role as a religious centre within the region 
is not supported by our evidence. 6 Hatra certainly lay on and profited 
from the trade route — already described by Strabo — that crossed the 
Euphrates at Zeugma and went from Mesopotamia to Babylon. 7 Not least 
the unsuccessful attacks against the city by Trajan and Septimius Severus in 
the years 117 and 198/9 illustrate the powerful position Hatra had acquired 
by this time. 8 

The economic and political rise of Hatra 9 is also closely linked to the 
administrative structures of the Parthian kingdom. 10 As early as in the first 
century Western observers viewed the Arsacid Empire as joint regno, rather 
than a unified state." Especially in the course of the second century Hatra 
became less dependent from Parthia and instead a loose client relationship 
with the Arsacid dynasty developed. 12 The increased autonomy is illustrated 
by the fact that the lords of Hatra, who previously had called themselves 
'Sir' (marya), now adopted the royal title (malka). 13 Until the beginning 
of Sasanian rule in the year 224 Hatra was able to preserve this degree 
of autonomy and also functioned as a buffer state between the Roman 
and the Arsacid empires. Both in 117 and 198/99 Roman soldiers failed at 

3 In general on Hatra see Drijvers 1977: 803—37; Hauser 1998: 493-528; Sommer 2003a: 44-6 and 
2003b: 384-98. 

4 Cass. Dio ocvm.31.1. 5 Sommer 2003a: 47—80. 

6 Correctly, Sommer 2003a: 44—6 rejects Young 2001: 192—3. 

7 Strabo xvi. 1. 27; see also Stein 1941: 299—316. 

8 Cass. Dio Lxvm.31 (Trajan); Herod, ill. 9 and Cass. Dio Lxxvi.12.2 (Septimius Severus); on the 
two campaigns see Debevoise 1938: 213—39 an d 256—62; Birley 1999: 129—45; Rubin 1975: 419—41; 
Campbell 1986: 51—8; on the fortification of Hatra see al-Salihi 1991: 187—94 an d Gawlikowski 1994: 

9 For bibliographic references see Hauser 1998: 493—528; Sommer 2003a and b; Kaizer 2000: 229-52; 
Dijkstra 1990: 81-98. 

10 For an overview see Wiesehofer 2001: 144—9 an d 281—2 with further references. 

11 Wiesehofer 2001: 144—5 on Plin. HN vi.112; Metzler 1991: 22 (now Wagner 2000: 51); on the 
relationship between local functionaries and the Arsacid lords see also Schuol 2000. 

12 Wiesehofer 1982: 440; Winter 1988: 34; Hauser 1998: 515—16. 

13 On the controversial chronology and the titles of the rulers of Hatra see Maricq 1955: 273—88; Drijvers 
1977: 820—7 an d Hauser 1998: 499—503. 

154 5 Arabia between the great powers 

conquering the city. 14 Dio's account reveals that Hatra's political situation 
changed as soon as the first Sasanian king Ardaslr I (224—40) had defeated 
the last Parthian ruler. 

Cassius Dio Lxxx.3.1—2 

(1) The situation in Mesopotamia was even more alarming and caused deep anxiety 
among everybody, not only among people in Rome but also everywhere else. 15 (2) 
For an Artaxerxes (= Ardaslr I), a Persian, defeated the Parthians in three battles, 
even killed their king Artabanos 16 and then marched against Hatra in order to 
establish a base from which he could attack the Romans. And indeed, he took the 
wall but lost many of his soldiers during the siege and therefore turned against 

The third-century historian, who was from Nicaea in Bithynia and com- 
posed a Roman history from the beginnings of the city to the year 229, 
informs us about Ardaslr Is attack of Hatra shortly after the change of 
power in Iran in 224. 17 This campaign against 'pre-Arsacid' Hatra around 
226/7, that is, before the beginning of the first Roman-Sasanian confronta- 
tions in the years 230—3, was part of the Sasanian conquest of previously 
Parthian territories after the foundation of the empire in 224 18 and an 
expression of Ardaslr Fs efforts to secure his own power. Cassius Dio also 
emphasises Hatra's strategic importance in northern Mesopotamia as a base 
for further military campaigns to the West. 

Apparently Hatra was not willing to acknowledge ArdasTr's sovereignty 
when he tried to integrate the city into the Sasanian Empire. There must 
have been two reasons for this; first, although Ardaslr had been able to 
conquer all of Media he had not succeeded in doing the same to Armenia 
where some Medes had fled. 19 From Hatra's perspective, Parthian rule had 
not entirely been broken. Secondly, Hatra saw its political and economic 
autonomy, which the city had gained in the course of the second century, 
threatened by Ardasir's desire to consolidate and centralise his rule within 
the Empire and to remove the power of the vassal kings. 

In 226/7 Ardaslr suffered a defeat outside Hatra and had to withdraw. 
However, his attack had long-lasting consequences because thereafter the 

14 Cass. Dio LXvm.31.1-4 and; Herod, m.9.3— 4; on these two campaigns see also Debevoise 
1938: 213-39 and 256—62. 

15 Cf. the commentary on I. 

16 On the decisive battle between Ardaslr and the last Arsacid ruler Artabanos IV, which took place on 
28 April 224 in the plain of Hormizdagan, see Schippmann 1990: 15. 

17 We also read about Ardaslr 's activities against the caravan city in Tabarl, tr. Noldeke 18-19; Bosworth 
15-16 (820). 

lS Wiesehoier 1982: 445—6. I9 Cass. Dio Lxxx.3.3. 

2j Palmyra 155 

Hatraensians, who had been Rome's enemies during the Arsacid period, 
now sought cooperation with Rome against the common opponent, the 
Sasanians. Rome and Hatra allied themselves in the following years 20 
and the city became part of the Roman defence strategy along the East- 
ern frontier, developments which enhanced Rome's strategic position in 
northern Mesopotamia considerably Latin inscriptions that have been 
found in Hatra attest the presence of Roman soldiers in the city dur- 
ing the reigns of Severus Alexander (222-35) an d Gordian III (238-44). 2I 
Roman activities after 230 such as the building and repair of streets and 
fortresses in the vicinity of Hatra further reveal Roman interest in using 
the city as an outpost against the Persian enemy and as part of its defence 

The military alliance between Rome and Hatra weakened the Sasanian 
position in a region that was strategically important as well as from the point 
of view of trade. This situation inevitably provoked a reaction from the ris- 
ing Eastern power and eventually Hatra was not able to withstand the 
Sasanian expansion of power. When the Persians conquered Hatra in the 
year 240 22 the political balance of power in this region was affected sig- 
nificantly and this entailed new military confrontations. In the Roman— 
Sasanian peace treaty of 244 (16) the Roman emperor Philip the Arab 
(244—9) presumably gave up the Roman protectorate of the territory of 
Hatra and, urged to do so by Sapur I, recalled his troops from there. 23 
Ammianus Marcellinus describes the Hatra of the year 363 as an old city in 
the middle of the desert, which had been deserted a long time ago. 24 The 
example of Hatra was not unique. J. Wiesehofer explains that Hatra's fate 
was typical for that of buffer states between the great powers. They often 
rose as a result of the strategic and political interests of their patrons but 
as often were crushed between them. 25 Not quite identical but compara- 
ble was the situation of Palmyra, which played an important role in the 
Iranian— Roman confrontations. 

23: Palmyra 

Pliny, Naturalis Historia v.88 l6 

Palmyra, a city that is privileged by its location, the high quality of its soil and 
its pleasant waters, is encircled on all sides by wide sandy deserts and lies - as if 
separated from other countries in a natural way - on its own between the two 

20 On this alliance see Hauser 1998: 516—19. 2I Oates 1955: 39-43 (nos. 79-81). 

22 Cf. the tefetences on pp. 19-22, nn. 9-12. 23 Winter 1988: 103—4. z4 Amm. xxv.8.5. 

25 Wiesehofer 1982: 447. z6 On this passage see Kaizer 2002: 36. 

156 5 Arabia between the great powers 

greatest empires of the Romans and the Parthians, thus in a conflict always the 
first point of interest on both sides. The distance between Palmyra and Parthian 
Seleucia, which is called '(Seleucia) on the Tigris', 27 is 337 miles, between Palmyra 
and the nearest Syrian coast 203 miles and between Palmyra and Damascus 27 miles 
less than that. 28 

Pliny the Elder wrote a comprehensive natural history, which was an ency- 
clopaedic work comprising several hundred Roman and Greek technical 
authors and composed according to subject groups. We learn from his 
passage on Palmyra that the city, just like Hatra, owed its wealth and signif- 
icance to its geographical situation. Its prominent location between Rome 
and Iran (map 9) attracted the attention of both powers, in particular during 
military confrontations. 29 

As contacts between Rome and the Parthian kingdom developed, 
Palmyra, which had always played a key role with regard to the trade in 
the Near and Middle East, gained more and more importance. Especially 
during periods of peace Palmyra thrived and developed into a flourishing 
trading metropolis in the East of the ancient world. Modern travellers are 
still impressed by its numerous magnificent monuments, among these the 
famous temple of Bel, the main Palmyran deity, 30 which reveal not only a 
rich religious life but also the prosperity of the city 31 Undoubtedly, the city 
was a crucial mediator for the trade between the great powers Rome and 
Iran 32 because the Roman East was the main recipient of the goods traded 
in Palmyra, above all the luxury goods that came from China and Arabia 
and travelled along the Silk Road, but also goods from India (2.8). 33 

From a Roman perspective Palmyra was also attractive because of the 
strategic role it could play. The city was supposed to represent an outpost 

27 Around 300 bc Seleucus I founded the city to become the capital of the Seleucid Empire. Although 
the city, which is located 40 miles north-east of Babylon on the right bank of the Tigris, had to cede 
this privileged status to Antioch on the Orontes in 293 bc, it developed and nourished as an Asian 
trade centre. In 165 Seleucia was burnt down during the Parthian War of Lucius Verus. Ktesiphon, 
which was situated across the river and is mentioned by Polybius (v.45.4) for 221 bc for the first 
time, was heavily fortified after the Parthian War of Septimius Severus and became the new capital 
of the Sasanians. 

2 These distances are somewhat exaggerated; the units are stadia that have been converted into miles. 

29 On the significance and history of Palmyra see Fevrier 1931; Michalowski and Gawlikowski 1966—85; 
Frezouls 1976; Drijvers 1977: 837-63; Browning 1979; Teixidor 1984; Bounni and Al-Asad 1988; 
Laurenti 1995; for further references see Kaizer 2002. 

30 On the religious life of Palmyra see Drijvers 1976; Teixidor 1979; Gawlikowski 1990: 2605—58 and 
Kaizer 2002. 

31 On the topography and architecture of Palmyra see Schlumberger 1935; Gawlikowski 1973; Will 
1983: 69—81. 

32 On Palmyra's role as a trading centre in general see Drijvers 1977; 837—63; Drexhage 1982: 17—34; 
Teixidor 1984; Gawlikowski 1994: 27—33 and 1996: 139—45; Young 2001: 136-86; Luther 2004: 327—51. 

33 Cf App. Civ. V-9- 

2j Palmyra 


Map 9: Palmyra and the Roman East in the second century 

against both the Parthian kingdom and the many Arab tribes in Syria. 34 
Because of its mediating role in the world of trade Palmyra was interested 
in maintaining good relations with Parthia but the city preferred to attach 
itself to Rome, the most powerful military power in the area. Palmyra's 

34 Shahid 1 

4a: 22-4. 

158 5 Arabia between the great powers 

special status is expressed in the city's title Hadriana, which it received 
after Hadrian's visit in 129. 35 Citizens of Palmyra could be granted Roman 
citizenship. 3 In 212 the Roman emperor Caracalla raised Palmyra's status 
to that of a colony and granted the city the ius Italicum. Further privi- 
leges linked to this new status included the right to raise and dispose of 
taxes. 37 

The defeat of the Parthian kingdom at the hands of the rising Sasanian 
dynasty represented a threat not only for Rome. Similar to Hatra, Palmyra 
feared that its position could be jeopardised by the new power in the East. 
Above all, the fact that the founder of the new empire, Ardasir I (224- 
40) was expanding into the north-eastern areas of the Arabian Peninsula 
affected Palmyran interests. When the king occupied Spasinu Charax on the 
Satt al- Arab the city lost immediate access to the Persian Gulf and thus its 
lucrative trade with India, one of its most important sources of income. 38 
In general, Palmyra therefore developed a hostile attitude to Persia and 
simultaneously formed a bond with Rome. Because of its crucial role in the 
military confrontations between the two great powers from the middle of 
the third century onwards the city gained tremendous power and eventually 
became an empire in its own right. 

During this period the history of the city was directly linked to the 
ruling family in Palmyra, the Iulii Aurelii Septimii. It was mainly Septimius 
Odaenathus who laid the foundations for Palmyra's expansion of power in 
the 260s and 270s. In an inscription dated to April 252 he is described 
as vir clarissimus, which was the title typically used during the imperial 
period for members of the senatorial order. Moreover, he was called the 
'Lord of Palmyra' (exarcbos)J 9 Considering Palmyra's municipal order that 
assigned supreme administrative power to the strategoi, this title reflects 
a remarkable concentration of power in the hands of one individual. In 
several inscriptions from 257/8 Odaenathus was addressed not only as vir 
clarissimus but also as vir consularis. 40 

Odaenathus' rise is closely linked to Palmyra's intervention in the 
Roman-Sasanian confrontations during the reign of Sapur I (240-72). 4I 
In 253 Odaenathus inflicted a first defeat on a Sasanian unit. It looks, how- 
ever, as if Sapur had dismissed Odaenathus' attempts to form an alliance 

35 Schlumberger 1939: 63—4 (no. 3). 36 Strobel 1989: 74. 

37 In general on the economic and political structures of Palmyra see Zahrnt 1986: 279—93; Brodersen 

1987: 153—61 and Matthews 1984: 157-80. 
3S Cf. the references on p. 19, with n. 8. 39 Gawlikowski 1985: 257, no. 13. 

40 Ibid. 254—5, nos - 5 - 8; on these ranks and Odaenathus' membership in the Roman Senate see Strobel 
1989: 74-5. 

41 On Odaenathus' activities, which are difficult to trace, see Kettenhofen 1982: 122—6. 

2j Palmyra 159 

with Persia before the Palmyrene lord was granted the position of vir con- 
sularis. A1 In light of the 'crisis' of the Roman Empire, which reached its 
peak around the middle of the third century, this development turned out 
to be extremely advantageous for Rome. Concerted actions of Palmyra and 
Persia would have entailed severe consequences for Rome. 43 Because of the 
growing tensions between the great powers it was impossible for Palmyra 
to adopt a neutral position. This is why Odaenathus once more tried to get 
closer to Rome. The anonymous author of the Historia Augusta (c. 400) 
reveals how significant the military activities of Odaenathus were for Rome's 
policy in the East. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Tyranni triginta 1$. 1-4 

(1) If Odaenathus, the Palmyrene prince, had not seized power after the capture of 
Valerian when the resources of the Roman state were exhausted, the East would 
have been lost. (2) As it was, after having assumed for the first time the title 'King' 
he gathered an army and then set out against the Persians together with his wife 
Zenobia, with his oldest son, whose name was Herodes, and with the younger 
sons Herennianos and Timolaos. 44 (3) First, he brought under his power Nisibis 
and most of the East together with all of Mesopotamia, after that he forced the 
defeated king himself to flee. (4) Finally, he pursued Sapur (I) and his children all 
the way to Ktesiphon, captured his concubines and also made a great amount of 

Although this chronique scandaleuse of Roman emperors is a problematic 
historical source (4), we cannot but agree with the ancient author that 
Rome was only able to retain its Eastern provinces because of the help of 
the Palmyrene lord Odaenathus. We learn that after Valerian (253-60) had 
been captured by Sapur in the year 260 (5) Odaenathus gathered an army 
and advanced against the Persians. In the second half of the year 260 he 
started a first counter-attack. 45 The military successes in Mesopotamia men- 
tioned in the Historia Augusta were part of another Persian campaign (262— 
4), upon which Odaenathus embarked at the instigation of the emperor 
Gallienus (260—8), using Palmyrene as well as Roman troops. In particu- 
lar Odaenathus' previous involvement in suppressing the attacks (260—1) 
against Gallienus' reign 4 persuaded the emperor to give him full powers 
with regard to the war in the East. 

42 Petr. Patr., frg. 10; cf. on this source Kettenhofen 1982: 72-3 and 124. 

43 Thus Alfoldi 1939: 178. 

44 On the question whether these names are fictive see Hohl 1976— 1985: 365 n. I on SHA Tyr. Trig. 27.1. 

45 On Odaenathus' Persian campaigns see De Blois 1975: 7—23; Kettenhofen 1982: 122-6 and Bleckmann 
1992: 122—9. 

46 On these events see Strobel 1993: 246-56. 

i6o 5 Arabia between the great powers 

In the year 262 Odaenathus succeeded in reclaiming the territories in 
Mesopotamia previously gained by the Sasanians. In particular the loss 
of Nisibis and Carrhae amounted to a serious defeat. Moreover, twice 
Odaenathus' troops advanced all the way to Ktesiphon (262; 264?) and 
devastated large parts of Mesopotamia. 47 However, they did not manage to 
capture the Sasanian capital, contrary to what the Historia Augusta might 
indicate. Apparently only the area surrounding the capital, which was suc- 
cessfully defended by the Persians, was raided. Nor is the capture of the 
royal harem confirmed by other sources. Be this as it may, there is no doubt 
that Odaenathus' advance enabled Rome to restore the status quo ante hel- 
ium. Gallienus granted Odaenathus the title of imperator for his successes. 
The emperor also appointed him commander over the entire East and he 
became corrector totius Orientis.^ 

In Gallienus' name Odaenathus now governed the territories that he had 
reconquered from Sapur. He probably held his imperium maius over the 
Eastern Roman provinces from the Pontic coast all the way to Palestine. 49 
He became indispensable to the Roman emperor and to the defence of the 
Roman Eastern frontier. 50 With regard to Palmyrene trade interests it was 
above all important to restore direct access to the Persian Gulf. 

Odaenathus' death in the spring of 267 not only freed Sapur I from a 
powerful opponent but was also a benchmark in the history of Palmyra. 
Up to this point the city had sided with and been loyal to Rome, and its 
power had increased steadily. Odaenathus' official successor was his ten 
year-old son Vahballathus on whose behalf his mother Zenobia (267—72) 
ruled the city. Within a short period of time she became the actual ruler 
of Palmyra and 'governed almost the entire East like a man'. 51 Gallienus 
must have taken advantage of Palmyra's unstable situation entailed in the 
change of rule but the threat from the Goths in the West prevented the 
emperor from pursuing an active policy in the East. 52 Apparently Rome 
and Palmyra found some sort of modus vivendi also during the reign of 
Claudius II (268-70). Coins issued by both the Roman emperor and the 
Palmyrene ruler indicate a policy of rapprochement. 53 Palmyra retained its 
significance for the protection of the Roman Eastern frontier against the 
Sasanian Empire. 

47 Cf. Strobel 1993: 249—50. 

4S SHA Gall. 10. 1-2; on Odaenathus' titles see Chtysos 1978: 51—2; Swain 1993: 157—64; Pottet 1996a: 

49 Sttobel 1993: 249. 

50 On Palmytas fole as the most impottant Roman outpost against the Sasanians see Funke 1996: 

51 SHA Gall. 13.5. 52 Alfoldi 1939: 177-8. 
53 Mattingly 1936: 95, 102 and 109. 

2j Palmyra 161 

However, when in 270 Palmyra sent troops to Egypt, embarked on a cam- 
paign into Asia Minor advancing to Ankyra and Chalcedon and conquered 
the Roman province of Arabia the break with Rome was final. 54 When the 
emperor Aurelian (270—5) began his reign Palmyra's sphere of influence was 
at its peak, reaching from Alexandria in Egypt to the Hellespont. 55 

Officially, Zenobia also broke with Rome; in 271/2 the joint mints with 
Aurelian ceased. 56 By issuing coins with the title Augusta' or Augustus' 
for herself and her son, without including Aurelian, Zenobia postulated 
her own imperial rule and proclaimed Palmyra's independence from the 
Roman Empire. 57 Her aggressive policy did not remain without a response. 
In the year 271 Aurelian, whose hands had been tied by revolts in the empire 
and barbarian invasions, turned against Palmyra. At Antioch and at Emesa 
he scored a decisive victory against the Palmyrene army and in 272 he 
forced Palmyra to surrender. 58 Whereas Zenobia herself was captured the 
city was spared by Aurelian. However, shortly after he had left the area the 
emperor was informed of an uprising in Palmyra, which made him return 
and besiege the city once more. 59 The title Palmyrenicus maximus, which 
is exclusively attested for Aurelian, celebrated the victory 60 The emperor 
had managed to restore his rule in this region. 

With regard to Zenobia's fate the sources are not unanimous. Whereas 
the Greek historian of the fifth century, Zosimus, claims that Zenobia died 
on the journey to Rome, the majority of our sources tell us that she 
was paraded through Rome during Aurelian's triumph and that she lived 
in the vicinity of Rome for some time after. 2 Once more the Historia 
Augusta deserves special attention in this context. The Lives of the Thirty 
Tyrants include a letter attributed to Aurelian and addressed to the Roman 
Senate in which the emperor defends himself against accusations that he 
had celebrated his victory over a woman like a victory over a military leader. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Tyranni triginta 30.4-11; 24-6 

(4) A letter by Aurelian survives which bears testimony regarding the captured 
woman. For when he was criticised by certain people because he, the strongest 

54 Zos. 1.50; for the difficult chronology of the events see Strobel 1993: 256-60. 

55 Millar 1971: 1-17; Equini Schneider 1993 and Stoneman 1992. 

56 On these mints see the references in Strobel 1993: 265. 

" On the legends S ZENOBIA AUG and IMP C VAHBALLATHUS AUG see RICv 2: 584, nos. 1-2 

and 585, nos. 1—8; see also Drijvers 1977: 851—2 and Strobel 1993: 265—6. 

s8 Downey 1950: 57-68. 

59 Zos. 1. 61; see Bowersock 1983: 130-7 and Shahid 1984a: 22—5, 151-2. 

60 CIL v 4319 (= ILS 579); cf. also Kettenhofen 1986: 143-4. 

61 Zos. 1.59.4. 6l SHA Tyr. Trig. 24.4; Aur. 33.1—2; Eutr. ix.13; Fest. 24. 

i6i 5 Arabia between the great powers 

man, had paraded a woman in his triumph like some general, 63 he defended 
himself in letters to the Senate and the Roman people by giving the following 
explanation, (5) 'I hear, Senators, that I am being accused of having performed 
an unmanly act by parading Zenobia in triumph. Those who are criticising me 
would praise me to the sky if they knew what kind of woman she is, how prudent 
in her way of thinking, how consistent in her actions, how firm with the soldiers, 
how generous when the situation requires it, how harsh when discipline is called 
for. (6) I may well say that she was even responsible for Odaenathus' victory over 
the Persians and for the fact that he advanced all the way to Ktesiphon after he 
had put Sapur (I) to flight. (7) I may add that the woman spread such fear among 
the peoples of the East and of Egypt that neither the Arabs nor the Saracens or 
Armenians dared to move against her. (8) And I would not have spared her life, 
had I not known that she did the Roman Empire a great service by preserving her 
rule in the East for herself or for her children. 64 (9) May those who are not pleased 
by anything, therefore, hold their nasty tongues. (10) For if it is not appropriate to 
defeat a woman and to lead her in triumph what do they say about Gallienus, on 
whom she placed shame by ruling her empire as well as she did? (11) What about 
the deified Claudius, this revered and honoured leader, who, as they say, allowed 
her to enjoy her rule while he himself was busy with his campaigns against the 
Goths? And he was well advised and clever to do so in order that he could achieve 
more securely what he had set out to do while she guarded the borders of the 
empire in the East. 5 (24) And so she was led in triumph displaying a splendour 
that the Roman people had never seen before. She was adorned with gems so huge 
that she suffered from the weight of her jewelry. (25) For it is said that the woman, 
although she was very strong, stopped very often, saying that she was not able to 
bear the weight of her gems. (26) Moreover, her feet were bound with gold and 
also her hands bound by golden chains, even around her neck she wore a golden 
chain, by which a Persian buffoon 66 led her. 

Although the author credits Zenobia with Odaenathus' military successes 
against the Persians, he is justified in pointing to her advances into Asia 
Minor, Arabia and Egypt. There is no doubt that the passage reflects 
Zenobia's actual position of power as it was widely acknowledged in 

The description of the triumph is certainly exaggerated and embellished 
with novelistic elements. E. Merten points out that the motif of the oriental 
queen who can barely carry the weight of her gemstones was a familiar topos 
in contemporary novels and rhetoric. 7 However, there is no reason to reject 
the idea that Zenobia was indeed paraded in Aurelian's triumph. Although 

63 SWKAur. 26.3 and 5; Zos. 1.55.3. 64 Gaudemet 1970: 94 and n. 47. 
5 The author of the Historia Augusta clearly tries to ignore Zenobia's ambitious claims for power; she 

appears only twice in the Life of Claudius (4.4 and 7.5). 

On this scurra Persicus, who was Zenobia's own servant, see Straub 1980: 243—4. 
67 Merten 1968: 134; cf. ibid. 132—40 for detailed comments on this passage. 

24 The Arab prince Imruulqais 163 

we cannot make firm statements about Zenobia's fate it becomes clear 
that she inspired people's imagination. Ancient observers compared her to 
Cleopatra. These comparisons corresponded to Zenobia's own claim for 
Palmyrene rule and laid the ground for further stories about the queen. 68 
Aurelian reveals that he spared Zenobia's life because of her deeds for 
Rome and thus recalls the special role Palmyra played in the history of 
Roman— Sasanian relations. As long as Palmyra sided with Rome the city 
contributed significantly to the protection of the Roman East and thus 
helped to maintain the political status quo. 69 When Palmyra was destroyed 
an important buffer state between the great powers disappeared. 70 In the fol- 
lowing period the Romans were forced to protect their borders themselves, 
both against the Sasanians and against the Arabs in this region. Although 
the fall of Palmyra left a vacuum barely filled by Rome, the great powers 
continued with their Arabia policy. Rome as well as the Sasanian Empire 
sought to win allies among the Arab rulers of the border territories by the 
Syrian and Arabian deserts. These were supposed to fend off nomadic tribes 
and could also be directly included in the military confrontations between 
Rome and Persia. Although this proxy policy did not reach its peak before 
the sixth century, the foundations for such a development were already 
built during the third century. 

24: The Arab prince Imruulqais between Romans and Sasanians 

Hatra and Palmyra controlled the numerous nomadic Arab tribes of the 
steppes around them in a way that the great powers were not or hardly 
able to. 71 They protected the traffic of goods, and they achieved economic 
prosperity and along with it political power. 72 The fall of the Parthian 
Empire changed this situation fundamentally. The destruction of Hatra 
by the first Sasanian ruler Ardaslr I in the year 240 73 led to a vacuum of 
political power in the central Mesopotamian steppe, which significantly 
jeopardised the transport of goods in this area. The destruction of Dura- 
Europos by Ardasir's successor Sapur I 74 amounted to the loss of a further 

68 See Kornemann 1947: 288—313. 69 Nakamura 1993: 133—50. 

70 On the consequences of this see Funke 1996: 228—35. 

71 Isaac 1993: 114— 15 (= Isaac 1998: 422—3) assumes that the Roman Eastern limes was above all designed 
to control the nomads in the Roman Empire; see also Sommer 2003a: 83 and n. 48; in general on 
the function of 'frontier lines' in the East see Isaac 1992: 408—16; on the general discussion regarding 
the strategic aims of the Roman policy in the East see ibid.: 372—426 and Sommer 2004: 96—8. 

72 On the crucial role of the caravan cities for long-distance trade see Millar 1998a: 119-37; on caravan 
cities in general see Rostovtzeff 1932. 

73 Chaumont 1979: 217—37; Wiesehofer 1982: 437—47. 

74 Rostovtzeff 1943: 17-60; James 1985: 111-24; Mac Donald 1986: 45-68; Gilliam 1941: 157-75; Millar 
1996: 445—71; 1998b: 473-92; Pollard 2000 s.v. and 2004: 119—44. 

164 S Arabia between the great powers 

important centre of trading and trans-shipment. 75 Neither in Hatra nor in 
Dura-Europos did new settlements emerge afterwards. 

More than anything else, however, the conquest of Palmyra by Aurelian 
in the year 273 and the end of Palmyrene rule were decisive. 76 Within a few 
decades the established local powers in Syria and Mesopotamia had disap- 
peared, and the vacuum they had left was not filled by either of the two 
great powers. 77 As a consequence, the infrastructure and protection that the 
autonomous centres Hatra and Palmyra had provided for the entire East- 
ern trade collapsed. The geographer Strabo refers to the possible problems 
this caused for the individual merchant who had to cover long distances 
safely. As part of his description of the trading routes in Mesopotamia he 
mentions that the nomadic or semi-nomadic Arabs along the Euphrates 
demanded such high tolls that several routes had become entirely 
unprofitable. 78 

In the fourth century the risks for travellers in the region were still enor- 
mous. According to Hieronymus, nomadic Saracens were notorious in the 
barren country along the public road between Beroia and Edessa. Travellers 
formed larger groups in order to resist the threat but this did not always 
help. In much detail the church historian describes how the nomads, rid- 
ing horses or camels, attacked a group of about seventy travellers, robbed 
them and then disappeared. 79 From the end of the second century onwards 
Rome reacted to these dangers with a stronger military presence in the 
Eastern provinces. 80 However, in particular the introduction of a new sad- 
dle for camel riders during the fourth century increased the threat posed 
by the now extraordinarily mobile and united Saracens. Interestingly, in 
the first century Palmyra made use of a militia made up of camel-riders, 
cavalry, mounted archers and light infantry, which was in charge of pro- 
tecting not only the territory of Palmyra but also its trading routes against 
raids. 81 

In many ways the history of Hatra and Palmyra thus illustrates the cru- 
cial role Arabia played in Roman— Persian relations as early as in the third 

75 It is unclear, however, if the decline of Dura-Europos as a trans-shipment centre for the Palmyrene 

long-distance trade began earlier, possibly linked to the presence of Roman garrisons in the city. 

The ports of both Anath, where soldiers from Palmyra were based (see Driven 1999: 35 n. 137) and 

Kirkesion (Will 1992: 89) would have been other options. 
7 On the end of Palmyrene rule, the conquest of Palmyra and the fall of the city see Downey 1950: 

57—68; Bowersock 1983: 130—7; Shahid 1984a: 151— 2; Stoneman 1992 and Hartmann 2001: 375—87. 

77 On the consequences of the fall of Palmyra for the policy of the great powers see Funke 1996: 228—30. 

78 Strabo xvi. 1. 27. 

79 Hier. Vit. Malchi 4; on this text see Fuhrmann 1977: 41—89. 

80 Kuhnen 1999: 220; Mayerson 1989; 71—9. 8l Hartmann 2001; 54 and n. 40. 

24 The Arab prince Imruulqais 165 

century. Odaenathus' activities on behalf of Rome (260—6/7) reveal the 
impact of individual Arab leaders and how much these could further their 
own position. The early Persian attempt to include Arab tribes outside their 
territory in their political strategies accelerated this development. 82 

During the reign of the first Sasanian king Ardasir I, Hira was the other 
important centre apart from Hatra (map 10). 83 For the numerous Arabs in 
this region the fall of Arsacid rule entailed a period of change. According 
to the author Tabari many Arab tribes did not want to remain on Sasanian 
territory because they feared that they would lose their autonomy under 
Sasanian rule. 84 When towards the end of Parthian rule the people of Hatra 
concluded an alliance with the Romans (2.2.) Ardasir I turned his attention to 
Hira. Here the family of the Lahmids, who had been of importance already 
during the Arsacid period, were the focus of attention. During Ardaslr's 
reign the leading man was Amr ibn Adi. 8s Ardasir I wanted to cooperate 
with him in order to weaken Rome and to control new Arab Bedouin tribes. 
Tabari informs us about the position of the son and successor of Amr ibn 
Adi, Imruulqais as follows. 86 

Tabari, Ta'rih 1 833-4 

After the death of 'Amr b. Adi b. Nasr b. Rabfa, one of his sons called Imruulqais 
al Bad was at that time a governor of Sapur I, 87 then of Hormizd I and (finally) 
of Bahram I, ruling over the frontier territory of the Arabs of Rabl'a, Mudar and 
the other tribes who lived in the deserts of Iraq, the Higaz and of Mesopotamia. 
He was the first of the kings of the clan of Nasr b. Rabl'a and the governors of the 
Persian kings to convert to Christianity. According to Hisam b. Muhammad, he 
lived as a vassal king in his district for 114 years, 88 of which 23 years and one month 
were under Sapur I, one year and ten days under Hormizd I, three years, three 
months and three days under Bahram I, and eighteen years under Bahram II. 

If Tabari is right, Imruulqais was appointed Sasanian governor over the 
Arabs in the vast deserts of 'Iraq, Higaz and Mesopotamia during the 

82 For a survey of this development see Bosworth 1983: 593-612 and 1985—7: 201-3. 

83 On Hlra's role in particular with regard to the protection of the Sasanian Western frontier see 
Bosworth 1983: 597—604 and Shahid 1971a: 462—3. 

84 Tabari, tr. Noldeke, 23-4; Bosworth 20—2 (822). 

85 On c Amr ibn 'Adi, whose historical biography escapes us for most parts (in contrast to that of his 
successor Imru'ulqais ), see Rothstein 1968: 39—40; Pellat 1971: 450 with further references. 

86 On Imru'ulqais see Bowersock 1983: 138-47. 

87 In the Arabic text of Sapur son of Ardasir'; for ease of understanding here and below the conventional 
names and numbers of the Sasanian kings are used. 

This must be one of the frequently attested 'oriental exaggerations'; Arabic sources often show 
legendary years of age with regard to the birth and death of individual rulers. It could also be the 
case, however, that mistakes were made when the manuscripts were copied. 

Map 10: Lahmids and Ghassanids along the Roman— Sasanian frontier 

i68 5 Arabia between the great powers 

reign of Sapur I (240-72). This meant that he controlled the Arabs liv- 
ing within the Sasanian Empire. Imru'ulqais' political activities, however, 
are discussed without agreement among scholars. In particular the state- 
ments made in the grave inscription of this Arab ruler do not correspond 
with Tabari's account. The former was discovered by the French scholars 
R. Dussaud and F. Macler in 1901 when they found an inscription in the rub- 
ble of a completely destroyed mausoleum southeast of an-Namara (modern 
Jordan), carved into a large basalt block. Originally the block had served as 
a door-lintel of the entrance to the grave. It is the oldest Arabic inscription 
that has been found so far and also the only one that was incised in the 
Nabataean alphabet. Since its first publication in 1902 it has received much 
attention from both epigraphists and historians. 89 

According to the inscription the Arab ruler Imru'ulqais died on the 
seventh day of the month Kesltil in the year 223 (= 328). The dating formula 
uses the era of Bostra, an Arabic centre in the north-western part of the 
Arabian Peninsula. 90 Imru'ulqais' name, descent and title are given. The 
Arab ruler had the right to call himself 'king of all Arabs'. 9 ' With regard to 
the Roman— Sasanian relations it is noteworthy that Imru'ulqais appears as 
a Roman client king and that he took measures to make this relationship 
with Rome last beyond his death. 92 On first sight the alliance between 
Rome and Imru'ulqais seems to contradict the role accredited to him by 
Tabari, namely that of Sasanian governor. It would appear, however, that 
he changed sides at some point, probably during the reign of the Sasanian 
king Bahram III (293), so that his sphere of influence shifted to the West. 
Henceforth he was a Roman client king and in this role allowed to call 
himself 'king of all Arabs', as we learn from his grave inscription. We can 
only speculate about his motives for the 'change of front'. According to 
Tabari Imru'ulqais was a declared Christian but this can hardly have been 
the main reason. It is more likely that his decision was motivated by the 
unstable situation that arose after the death of Bahram III. Given that he 
had been the king's supporter and could expect the new Persian ruler Narse 
to be hostile he must have decided to escape. 93 

89 For the text and a German translation see Altheim and Stiehl 1965: 312—32; for a more recent — but 
problematic — English translation and interpretation see Bellamy 1985: 31—51. 

90 After the Nabataean empire had been integrated into the Roman Empire in 105/6 Bostra became the 
capital of the newly created Roman province of Arabia; at this point the era of Bostra was established. 

91 Funke 1996: 231 has pointed out that this is the first instance where the legitimacy of rule stems from 
a pan-Arabian ideology. 

92 Altheim and Stiehl 1965: 316-17; according to Bellamy 1985: 34—5 and 46 Rome assigned special titles 
to the Arab vice kings appointed by Imru'ulqais and thereby turned them into rulers by Roman 
authority. As phylarchs they were supposed to protect Roman interests in this region. 

93 Thus Altheim and Stiehl 1965: 320. 

25 Proxy policy': Lahmids and Gassanids 169 

His example did not alter the general Persian policy and the Sasanians 
continued to entrust individual Arab rulers with the control of the restless 
Arab tribes along their borders. 94 In the so called Inscription of Paikuli, 
an inscription of Narse (293-302), we read that once more a 'king of the 
Lahmids' paid his respect to the Sasanian king on the occasion of his 
accession to the throne. 95 Apparently the Persians had put him in charge 
as an allied vassal along their Western frontier so that he would continue 
the tasks carried out by Imru'ulqais before. 

It thus looks as if— corresponding to the Persian policy — the Romans also 
tried to protect their own border by using local Arabs as commanders in 
these areas. Inevitably this Arabia policy' extended the geographical scope 
of the conflict between the great powers and introduced a new element 
to the Roman-Iranian relations. Whereas henceforth the Sasanians always 
entrusted one powerful family, namely the Lahmids, with the protection 
of their interests in the Arab territories, the Romans always used several 
phylarchs who, in return for pay, performed services that helped with the 
protection of the border and controlling the restless Arab tribes. This rather 
loose state of dependence, which is alluded to in the grave inscription of 
Imru'ulqais, did not change before the beginning of the sixth century when 
the Ghassanid dynasty became to Byzantium what the Lahmids had been 
to the Sasanians for a long time. 9 In the sixth century the 'proxy policy' 
of the great powers, that is the policy of including Arab rulers in their own 
political considerations, reached its peak. 

25: 'Proxy policy': Lahmids 97 and Ghassanids s 

Procopius, De Bello Persico i.iy. 40-41 and 45-48 

(40) . . . For Alamoundaros was a very smart man and very experienced in war, 
extremely dedicated to the Persians and exceptionally daring to the effect that he 
thwarted Roman interests for almost fifty years. (41) From the borders of Egypt 
to Mesopotamia he raided every territory where and from where he captured all 
things, one after the other. . . 

(45) To sum up: this man was the worst and most dangerous enemy for the 
Romans. The reason for this was that Alamoundaros was the only one holding the 

94 See Mayerson 1989: 71—9. 

95 Humbach and Skjaervo 1983: § 92 (p. 71 ed. Skjaervo); Skjaervo 1983: 126; on this second great 
epigraphic statement by a third-century Sasanian ruler see Kettenhofen 1995c: 1—47. 

96 On the importance of the Lahmids for the protection of the Sasanian Western frontier against the 
Bedouins of the Arabian- Syrian desert see Nyberg 1959: 316—26. 

97 Rothstein 1968 and Shahid 1986: 632—4. 

98 Noldeke 1887b; Kawar 1957—8: 232—55 and Shahid 1965: 1020— 1. 

170 5 Arabia between the great powers 

royal title and thus ruling over all Saracens in Persia, which meant that he was able 
to use the entire army at any time in order to attack whichever parts of the Roman 
Empire he desired. (46) However, neither one of the Roman generals, who are 
called duces, nor one of the commanders of the Saracens allied with the Romans, 
who bear the title phylarchs, possessed enough power to oppose Alamoundaros 
with his men. For none of the units present in these territories was strong enough 
to be the enemies' equal. (47) This is why the emperor Justinian made Arethas, 
the son of Gabala, who ruled the Saracens in Arabia, the leader of as many tribes 
as possible and thereby honoured him as never before among the Romans. (48) 
However, in the following period Alamoundaros did not thwart Roman interests 
any less than before, that is rather more, because whenever he attacked or when they 
competed with each other Arethas was either markedly unsuccessful or deserted 
his men very quickly. For we know very little about him. And thus Alamoundaros 
had the opportunity to loot the entire East without any resistance and for a long 
time, in particular as in addition he simply reached a very old age. 

During the reigns of Kavadh I (488-97/499-531) and Xusro I Anosarvan 
(531—79) al-Mundir III, whom the Greek sources call Alamoundaros, was 
the leader of the Lahmids. Procopius' account emphasises how much this 
Arab ruler posed a threat for Byzantium. Only when the Byzantine emperor 
Justinian (527-65) established a client relationship with the Ghassanid 
dynasty similar to the one that existed between the Lahmids and the Sasa- 
nians, did the situation change." In 529 Justinian placed the famous ruler 
al-Harit V ibn Gabala, whom Procopius calls Arethas, at the head of as many 
tribes as possible. 100 The centre of his rule was in Gablya, close to Damas- 
cus, and his sphere of influence reached as far as the Red Sea (map 10). He 
was also given the title of king and must have ruled over all Arabs in Syria. 
Justinian's intentions are obvious. He wanted to set up a counterpart to the 
Lahmids, who were pursuing Persian interests most successfully. 101 During 
the sixth century the relations between the two dynasties, siding with the 
Byzantine and Sasanian side respectively, were characterised by permanent 
military confrontations. 102 

Procopius gives a comprehensive account of the continuing quarrels 
and fighting and also comments on their military consequences for the 
confrontations between West and East. Alamoundaros acted as the leader 
of a Persian army 103 and Arethas' soldiers reinforced Justinian's troops. 104 
We are also told that Arethas gathered a large army which he used to support 

99 On the Byzantine— Arabian relations during the sixth century see Vasiliev 1935—50 and Shahid 1995a; 

on the violent proxy war fought between the kingdoms of the Lahmids and Gassanids during the 

following period see Funke 1996: 232—5; Whittow 1999: 207—24. 
100 Kawar 1959: 321-43. IDI Casey 1996: 214—22. IQ1 Devreesse 1943: 263-307. 

103 Proc. BP 1.18.1 and 9. io4 Ibid. 1.18.7 and 35. 

2$ Proxy policy': Lahmids and Gassanids 171 

the activities of the Roman troops and to raid Sasanian territory. 105 As he 
was much feared by the Romans, these planned their activities carefully 
around possible attacks by Alamoundaros. 10 Moreover the Ghassanids 
and Lahmids fought each other directly without any Roman or Persian 
involvement. 107 

Procopius indicates that the great powers used the Arabian allies merely 
as a means to an end in order to pursue their own military interests. 

Procopius, De bello Persico 11.1.1—$ 

(1) Shortly after Xusro (I) learnt that Belisarius had also started to win over Italy 
for the emperor Justinian, 108 and - although he was no longer able to conceal his 
plans - wanted to find a way how to break the peace treaty by way of a clever excuse. 

(2) He took counsel with Alamoundaros in the matter and instructed him to come 
up with reasons for a war. (3) The latter then accused Arethas of having violated 
borderland, started hostilities in spite of the peace and in this way attempted to 
attack Roman territory. (4) He claimed that he himself was not violating the peace 
treaty between the Persians and Romans because neither of the two parties had 
included him in the peace. (5) And this was true because not in a single instance 
were the Saracens, as they were subsumed under the name 'Persians' or 'Romans', 
named in the declarations. 

Apparently Xusro I wanted an excuse for a new war with Byzantium. In 
540 — when Justinian seemed occupied with activities in the West - he 
thus provoked confrontations between the Lahmids and Ghassanids. The 
Persian ruler did not perceive this as a violation of the so-called 'eternal 
peace' {eirene peras ouk ecbousa), 109 which had been concluded shortly before 
between Byzantium and the Sasanian Empire, because the treaty of 532 did 
not explicitly mention the Arabian allies. 110 In this way the two powers, 
who were each striving for strategic advantages, had retained their liberty to 
move. In practice, however, the attacks of Alamoundaros, who accused his 
opponent Arethas of violations of the border, became the casus belli and in 
540 this led to the outbreak of the second Byzantine— Sasanian War in the 
sixth century 111 In light of these events it is even more remarkable that the 

IO! Ibid. 11.19.n-18. Io6 Ibid, n.16.17. 

107 Ibid. II. 28. 12-14; on these activities, of which the great powers in general approved, see Vasiliev 

1950: 274-83; Rubin i960: 272—3 and 310— 11 and Shahid 1971b: 240-2. 
IoS In 535, after the victory over the empire of the Vandals in North Africa (533/4), the most powerful 

of Justinian's generals, Belisarius, was put in charge of the war against the Eastern Goths in Italy. 

After several victories in southern Italy he entered Rome on 10 December 536. 

109 Proc. BP 1.22.3; cf- a l so the references in Luther 1997: 219 n. 425. 

110 On the Joedus of 532 see Giiterbock 1906: 37—56 and Greatrex 1998: 213—21. 

111 On the events of the year 540 see Greatrex 1998: 218-21. 

172 5 Arabia between the great powers 

Arabian allies were explicitly included in the peace when in 562 the great 
powers tried to end the war and to establish an overall peace (2.0). 

This may suffice to illustrate the important role the Arab Saracens played 
in the confrontation of the great powers. The end of the Lahmid dynasty 
once more reveals the significance of the client relationship for the Sasanians 
and the consequences for the course of Sasanian history Whereas the 
Lahmid subjects had converted to Christianity for a long time, their rulers 
had remained pagans. Only the last Lahmid king Numan III (580-602)" 2 
professed himself a Christian." 3 This may have contributed to the break 
with the Persian king Xusro II Parvez (590—628) as much as the fact that 
Xusro accused the Lahmid king of lacking support against Bahram Cobin. 
By treason Numan III was lured to the court of Xusro II and assassinated." 4 
The Lahmid monarchy ended with the death of Numan III. Xusro II 
entrusted an Arab of non-Lahmid descent with the tasks previously carried 
out by the Lahmid dynasty. Alongside this new ruler a Sasanian governor 
was appointed." 5 In the eyes of the Sasanian ruler the Lahmids had obvi- 
ously gained too much power. Although Xusro II had liberated himself 
from an inconvenient vassal, he had destroyed the balance of power in the 
region. In the following period, the protection of the South-western borders 
of the Sasanian Empire against the attacks of nomadic Arab tribes, which 
had been one of the most important tasks of the Lahmids, was lacking. As 
a result, several Arab Bedouin tribes formed an alliance and probably in 
604 destroyed a Sasanian army at Du Kar. From a Sasanian perspective this 
defeat was rather insignificant but the battle had important psychological 
effects on the Arabs. The victory showed them how powerful they could be 
when they cooperated. A few years later the Arabs united under the banner 
of Islam, put an end to the Sasanian Empire and rose to become the new 
power in the Near and Middle East." 6 

112 Shahid 1995a: 486—7 (vol. 1). II3 Rothstein 1968: 139—43 an d Preiser 1975: 47—8. 

114 Shahid 1995b: 119-20. " 5 Rothstein 1968: 119—20. 

116 PteiEler 1975: 54 and Funke 1996: 234. 


Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

Although Roman— Persian relations were dominated by military conflicts 
or diplomatic activities concerning these conflicts, there were a number 
of issues that showed points of contact between the two powers, which, 
however, could themselves become the starting point for further tensions. 
These are above all economic and trade related issues, the protection of 
the frontier and the integration of territories that had been contested for 
centuries. It is noteworthy that the contemporary authors always give their 
accounts on the basis of an 'imaginary opposition' between Occident and 
Orient, which creates a typical 'perspective of confrontation'. One cannot 
fail to notice the prejudices the Roman historians held against the 'oriental 
barbarians'. Such commonplaces, which found their way into Western lit- 
erature many centuries ago, and which were embellished in numerous sub- 
sequent accounts given by those travelling between the cultures — soldiers 
or diplomats, scholars or philosophers, artists or missionaries — have had 
a tremendous impact on modern views until the present day. The second 
part of this book thus emphasises the contrary, namely the efforts to recon- 
cile differences, the openness for cooperation between the powers and the 
solutions that were found in the process and thereby to gain a deeper under- 
standing of Roman— Sasanian relations. 1 Given how the rivalries between 
Rome and Persia persisted and how difficult in particular the geographical 
conditions in the border regions were, these solutions can indeed be called 
innovative and forward-looking. At times, they certainly helped to stabilise 
the difficult political situation in the contested border territories along the 
Euphrates and Tigris. 

26 Armenia 

It is not easy to say what exactly Armenia' was in (late) antiquity, let alone 
to pinpoint the origins of those settling in the territorial entity between 

1 In this context see also chapter 9 'Exchange of information', below. 


174 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

the Black and the Caspian Seas that may be referred to as 'Armenia' by 
contemporary or modern authors. 2 The meaning of 'Armenia' varies, and 
this not only according to date and context but also according to perspective, 
which means that at any given point the Armenians themselves would have 
had a very different view from those adopted by the Romans and Persians. 3 
From the beginning of Roman— Iranian relations, however, Armenia was an 
object of rivalry between both powers, and for good reasons (map n). 

Because of its geographical location, the highland of Armenia to the south 
and south-west of the Caucasus was a focal point throughout antiquity: it 
was the area through which the majority of traffic from the Near East to Asia 
Minor passed and it was close to the strategically important Caucasus passes 
(17). Apart from being a transit area, Armenia had remarkable economic 
resources. 4 Among others, there were the gold mines of Pharangion, 5 men- 
tioned by both Procopius and Malalas and famous already during Strabo's 
lifetime. Accordingly, during the peace negotiations for the so-called 'eter- 
nal peace' in 530/31 Kavadh I insisted on these mines being returned by the 
Romans. 7 

Armenia benefited not only from its 'natural' resources but also from its 
important role in trade. Among those who travelled to Greater Armenia — 
the larger part of the country, which, as we shall see, came to be controlled 
by the Sasanians — in order to engage in trade were merchants from Persia as 
well as from Syria and Palestine. 8 Procopius provides us with a description 
of the most important Armenian city in the sixth century, Dvln. 9 The 
Byzantine historian mentions a densely populated landscape surrounding 
the new capital, which was also the economic centre of Armenia. He also 
refers to fertile plains used for breeding horses. According to the author, 
merchants came from neighbouring Iberia, from almost anywhere in Persia 
and even from faraway India. 10 

Armenia's human resources were equally significant and resulted from 
the idiosyncratic structure of Armenian society. Considering the sporadic 

2 For an excellent summary of early Armenian history see Garsoi'an 1997a: 63-94 ana " 1997b: 95-116; 
for a sequence of maps see Hewsen 2001. 

3 For a cautious assessment with an emphasis on the 'diversity and incongruity' of anything 'Armenian' 
see the forthcoming article by Greenwood. 

4 On the economic resources of Armenia see Redgate 1998 (repr. 1999): 83—7. 

5 Proc. BP 1. 15. 26— 9; Malal. 18. 50-1 (pp. 455-6). 6 Strabo xi.14.9. 

7 Chaumont 1987a: 433 correctly interprets this as an indication 'that their exploitation yielded large 

profits for the Sasanian government'. 
s Malal. 18.63 (p- 469). Armenia's intensive trade with the neighbouring regions during late antiquity 

may be confirmed by the large variety of coins found in the area; for references see Chaumont 1987a: 

9 Manandian 1965: 81—2. IO Proc. BP n. 25. 1—3. 




176 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

character of our evidence, it is problematic to use the term 'feudal system'. 11 
However, the relationship between the king, who had his own resources, and 
the hereditary Armenian nobility, the naxarars, was characterised by obliga- 
tion as well as independence. There was also intense competition between 
and within the princely families, whose prestige and landed property varied 
but was often immense. 12 Below the nobility, the rest of the population was 
primarily made up of peasants who owed military and labour service to 
the respective families and ultimately to the crown. The contingents at the 
king's disposal were impressive and enhanced by monetary contributions 
owed by the princes. 13 

To the west of the river Euphrates, Lesser Armenia (Armenia Minor), 
belonged to the Roman Empire from early on. Since Diocletian and Con- 
stantine this part of Armenia formed the provinces Armenia 1 and 11. In 
contrast, Greater Armenia (Armenia Maior), was often the reason for mil- 
itary conflicts between Rome and Iran. Although both sides showed the 
desire to resolve tensions peacefully, both also wanted to gain power in 
this strategically important region. The following account by Suetonius 
goes back to an earlier period of Roman— Parthian relations, 14 but it illus- 
trates Armenia's delicate situation between East and West - a situation that 
remained difficult throughout late antiquity. 

Suetonius, Nero 1} 

(1) Among the spectacles that he staged I may well also report on the entrance of 
Tiridates into the city. As foggy weather had prevented him from showing the man 
to the people on the day determined by the edict, he produced this man, the 
king of Armenia, who had been persuaded to come by great promises, when the 
next possible opportunity arose; cohorts in full armour were displayed around 
the temples in the Forum, he sat in a curule chair by the rostra in the attire of a 
triumphant general and surrounded by military symbols and standards. (2) And 
at first he let the king, who was approaching via a sloping platform, go down on 
his knees, then he kissed him after he had raised him with his right hand, and 
finally he took his tiara away, as the king had asked him to, and replaced it with 
the diadem, 15 while a man of praetorian rank translated the words of the suppliant 
and announced them to the crowd. Then he led him to the theatre and placed 

11 Redgate 1998: 97-8 on Toumanoff 1963: 34-144 and Adontz 1970: 343—61. 

12 See Thomson 1999: xiii— xiv; Garsoian 1997a: 76-9; somewhat speculative Chaumont 1987a: 433. 

13 Cf. Redgate 1998: 99 with further references. 

14 On the history of Armenia during the Parthian period see Bedoukian 1980; Chaumont 1987a: 420—6; 
1990: 19-31; Kettenhofen 1998: 325—52; see also Schottky 1989. 

15 The tiara is a Persian headgear. Among the Parthians, it was the prerogative of the kings, who alone 
were allowed to wear the battlemented tiara, often decorated with stars; the diadem was the royal 
symbol granted and acknowledged by the Romans. 

26 Armenia 177 

him, who once more adopted the demeanor of a suppliant, on his right. Because 
of this he was hailed as imperator, and after laying a laurel wreath in the Capitol 
he closed the double doors of the temple of Janus, indicating that no war was left 

In the year 54 the Parthian king Vologaeses I (51-76/80) had appointed his 
brother Tiridates (52/54-60 and 61/66-72) as king of Armenia. This move 
had threatened Roman interests and triggered war with Rome. Although 
the Romans mobilised a large army in order to deal with the Armenian 
conflict', a solution was reached only through a mutual agreement that 
led to the events described by Suetonius. Right after the last battle in 
Armenia, which had taken place at Rhandeia, Tiridates had paid tribute 
to Nero before the emperor's image and taken off his diadem, which Nero 
himself returned to him three years later as part of a solemn ceremony. 
Suetonius depicts the events as a spectacle that illustrated Rome's greatness 
and superiority, a representation that matches his efforts to praise Nero as 
a triumphant victor. What we do not immediately see, however, is that 
after a series of unsuccessful military activities the Romans had to waive 
their claims for direct rule in Armenia; this was compensated for by the 
willingness of the king to acknowledge that henceforth any Armenian king 
would be an official dependant of Rome. At least in the year 66 the solution 
proved to be a successful reconciliation of interests, which had a stabilising 
effect. By agreeing on such a partition of sovereignty over Armenia both 
sides came to terms with the fact that neither could rule in Armenia without 
respecting the interests of the other. Ultimately, however, Armenia remained 
a Parthian vassal state because the Parthian kings did not allow the Romans 
to prescribe who would be the Arsacid on the Armenian throne. While the 
investiture of the Armenian king was reserved to the Roman emperors, the 
actual choice lay with the Parthian king. 17 

Armenian history after Tiridates I is not well documented. We can say, 
however, that for the next 150 years the situation was more or less peace- 
ful and closely linked to the state of Roman-Parthian relations. 18 When 
tensions between the great powers increased, this entailed turbulence for 
Armenia. The following passage reveals how much the foundation of the 
Sasanian Empire in the year 224 affected affairs within Armenia itself as 
well as its role as a cause for conflict between West and East. 

1 This was the customary symbolic act that indicated the end of war. 

17 Chaumont 1987a: 424. 

18 On the episodic character of Armenian history and the difficulties of 'reconstructions 1 see Garsoi'an 
1997a and 2004; see also Redgate 1998: 88—94. 

178 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

ios, History (ed. Thomson) §§ 18-20 19 

(§ 18) At the eclipse of the era of the Parthian kingdom, when sovereign rule was 
taken from Artabanos son of Valars at his murder by Ardasir son of Sasan - who was 
a noble from the province of Stahr, who had come and united the Persian forces, 20 
who then scorned and rejected the sovereign rule of the Parthians and were pleased 
to choose the lordship of Ardasir son of Sasan - when the sad news of his death had 
reached Xusro, the king of Armenia — who was second in the sovereign rule of the 
Persians, because whoever was the king of Armenia was second in the sovereignty 
of the Persians 21 - although he soon heard the sorrowful news, he had no time at 
all to complete preparations for warfare. After this, he returned in great sadness 
at the course of events, because he had not been able to accomplish anything; in 
great distress and at the completion of these matters, he turned and went to his 
own country. 

(§ 19) Now at the start of the next year, Xusro, the king of Armenia, began to 
organise his army and to collect a force, 22 gathering the forces of the Albanians and 
the Georgians, opening the gate of the Alans 23 and the pass of Cor, 24 bringing the 
forces of the Honk', 25 in order to campaign in Persian regions and attack the regions 
of Asorestan, 26 as far as the gates of Ktesiphon. Having ravaged the whole land, 
he brought populous cities and prosperous towns to ruin and left all the inhabited 
land empty and devastated. He was attempting to eradicate and destroy utterly, to 
overthrow the foundation; he was aiming to expunge the traditional institutions of 
Persian sovereignty. He made an oath at the same time to seek revenge with great 
resentment for their [i.e. the Parthian] loss of sovereignty . . . 

(§ 20) For because of his close kinship to that house, he himself was also greatly 
dejected, that they had submitted and entered into service, acknowledging the 
kingdom of the Stahrac'i, 27 and had joined with him. And although Xusro arranged 

19 On this passage see also the references in Thomson 1976: 454—6; for a brief survey of Armenian 
historiography see Thomson 2001: 106. 

20 On Ardasir and his career see Wiesehofer 1986a: 371—6. 

21 On the close relations between the Armenian Arsacids and the Parthians see Chaumont 1969: 25—47; 
on the representation of the Arsacids in the Armenian sources see Kettenhofen 1998: 325—53. 

22 Cf. the account of Moses of Chorene 11. 71— 9, who describes Xusro s support for the last Parthian 
king Artabanos against Ardasir; for discussion of this extremely problematic source see Chaumont 
1969: ch. 2 and Toumanoff 1969: 251. 

23 This refers to the Dariel pass, the main route through the Caucasus; cf. the commentary on 27, esp. 
p. 188 n. 70. 

24 This is the Derbend pass by the Caspian Sea (= Caspian Gates). 

25 The Honk 1 are the Huns, which is an anachronistic term at this point and reflects the fifth-century 
perspective of the author; he has the Kusan in mind, who at the beginning of the third century were 
active along the North-eastern frontier of the Parthian Empire. 

2 This is a frequently used geographical name for Sasanian Mesopotamia. 

27 Istakhr is the main religious centre of the Sasanians in the Persis, a region in south-eastern Iran; 
although there are no archaeological remains, the sources agree that from the late Parthian period 
onwards it was home to a fire sanctuary of the goddess Anahita. According to tradition, the ancestral 
founder of the Sasanian dynasty, Sasan, presided over this sanctuary, which therefore was directly 
linked to the rise of the Sasanians; see Wiesehofer 2001: index s.v. (Istakhr) and the glossary in this 

26 Armenia 179 

an embassy, [urging] that his relatives should come in support and should stand 
against them with his kingdom, and that help would be given to him from the 
regions of the Kusan and from that border and from their own country, by brave 
peoples and military forces, that they would come in support, the houses, the chiefs 
and nobles and family-heads of the Parthians, did not pay heed because they had 
accepted and submitted to the sovereign rule of Ardaslr rather than the sovereignty 
of their own relative and brother. 

During the Parthian and Sasanian eras the history of Armenia was closely 
linked to that of Iran. 28 Accordingly, the testimonies of Armenian histo- 
riography are very valuable for us, not least because they yield numerous 
details regarding the history and culture of the Sasanian Empire. How- 
ever, frequently these sources show a pro-Armenian or rather anti-Iranian 
bias and — as they were composed during a later period — also confront us 
with problems of chronology. 29 This applies above all to the early phases 
of Sasanian history. The passage above is an excerpt from an Armenian 
history, several revised editions of which have survived under the author's 
name Agathangelos'. Although the author claims to have been an eye- 
witness during the reign of Tiridates the Great (who ruled until c. 330), 
his work is most likely a compilation of the fifth century. Agathangelos 
describes the reaction in Armenia immediately after the Arsacids had been 
overthrown by the Sasanians. 30 Xusro, the king of Armenia and brother 
of the last Parthian king, feared that the events would jeopardise his own 
position. Being of Arsacid offspring himself, he did not want to acknowl- 
edge the Sasanian dynasty and sought allies in order to continue the fight 
against the Sasanians. 31 Agathangelos' list of Xusro 's various initiatives in the 
Caucasian region once more points to Armenia's geo-strategic significance, 
which steered the activities of the great powers in the region. However, 
Xusro's efforts were unsuccessful. In the face of the resolute actions of the 
first Sasanian king the initial resistance against Ardaslr within the Sasanian 
Empire broke down quickly. 

28 For a historical survey see Chaumont 1987a: 423-38. 

29 As the Armenian script was invented between 410 and 420 and did initially not have any biblical 
focus the work cannot predate c. 450; see also Wiesehofer 2001: 156. 

30 On the conflicting accounts of Western and Armenian historiography and the resulting difficulties 
in establishing a chronology of the events in Armenia see especially Schottky 1994: 226—31; cf. also 
Toumanoff 1969: 233—81. 

31 Cf. Chaumont 1987a: 426, 'The dynastic upheaval in Iran transformed the political scene in Armenia. 
The Armenian sources state that the country's king at the time was Khosrov "the Great". He was 
probably a close relative of the last Parthian monarchs, and he evidently wanted to make his realm 
an Arsacid bastion against the Sasanians. Since his own forces were too weak, he needed Roman 
support and remained resolutely pro-Roman. 1 

i8o 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

Ultimately, Armenia could not escape the ambitions of the early Sasanian 
rulers. Xusro's successor on the Armenian throne, his son Tiridates, had to 
flee and seek refuge in the Roman Empire. After Ardaslr had tried already in 
227 to take possession of Greater Armenia, 32 from 252/53 onwards the coun- 
try became part of the sphere of influence of the Sasanians, who followed 
the Parthian tradition of appointing a member of their own dynasty as king 
of Armenia. Hormizd-Ardaslr, the oldest son of the second Sasanian king 
Sapur I became the 'Great king of Armenia'. 33 He was the only member of 
Sapur's family who was allowed to use the title of 'Great king', a circum- 
stance which reveals the important role Armenia played for the Sasanian 
dynasty. During the reign of Sapur Is successor, Hormizd I, Armenia con- 
tinued to be ruled by a Sasanian satellite king, probably the youngest son 
of Sapur I, Narse. 34 It looks as if this phase of Sasanian rule introduced 
some internal stability in Armenia, which among other aspects involved an 
assimilation of local religion and orthodox Mazdaism. 35 

However, in the face of the changing balance of power towards the end 
of the third century we observe renewed Roman attempts to increase their 
influence in Armenia. Bahram II (276-93) had to accept that Diocletian 
invested Tiridates III and thereby once more a descendant of the Arsacid 
dynasty as Armenian king, whose rule, however, was at first limited to Lesser 
Armenia. 3 As a consequence of Narse's catastrophic defeat by Galerius 
in the year 298 (6) and the resulting peace treaty of Nisibis strategically 
important regions in southern Armenia became part of the Roman sphere 
of influence (17); moreover, with Roman support Tiridates extended his 
rule to all of Armenia. As Tiridates 'the Great', he captured a very special 
place in Armenian history because during his reign the country turned 
to Christianity 37 Although the historical circumstances are complex and 
the reconstruction of the 'story subject to speculation, 38 one may say that 
Armenia' became the first ever Christian state, not long before a similar 
change took place in the West. Against the opposition of the Armenian 
nobility, who largely followed Iranian traditions, the country increasingly 
opened up to Western influence. The Armenian churches and monasteries 

32 Widengren 1971: 758. 33 Cf. SKZ, Greek text, 11. 40-1. 

34 Cf. Humbach and Skjaervo 1983: m 1, 28, 32 and 45; in 2, 10— 11, 36 and 72. 

35 Chaumont 1987a: 426, with reference to Moses of Chorene 11.77. 

36 For details cf. Winter 1988: 145-51. 

37 Soz. 11. 8.1; on the controversial dating of this crucial event within Armenian history — often the years 
313 or 314 are given as the date but many Armenians prefer the year 301 — see Ananian 1961: 43—73 
and 317—60. 

38 There was already a Syrian current of Christianity that had percolated into southern districts; see 
Garsoi'an 1997: 81—3. 

26 Armenia 181 

built during late antiquity and in particular the early Middle Ages can still be 
admired today, which has led to the assumption that Armenia contributed 
to the development of Christian religious architecture in general. 39 The 
following passage attests to the consequences of Tiridates' decision for 
Armenia's position between Rome and the Sasanian Empire. 

Moses ofChorene (ed. Thomson) 111.5*° 

Copy of the letter of the Armenians 

'Head-bishop Vrtanes and those bishops under him and all the nobles of Greater 
Armenia, to our lord Constantius, emperor, autocrator, Greeting. 

Remember the sworn agreement 41 of your father Constantine, which was [made] 
to our king Tiridates; and do not give this country of yours to the godless Persians, 
but assist us with forces, in order to create as king the son of Tiridates, Xusro. 
For God has made you lord not only of Europe but also all the Middle-lands, and 
respect for your power has reached the ends of the earth. And we ask that your 
rule may expand more and more. Be well.' 

On hearing this, Constantius sent Antiochus, the overseer of his palace, 42 with a 
substantial force and purple robes with a crown and a letter which had this original: 

Letter of Constantius 

Augustus, autocrator, emperor Constantius, to you the great Vrt'anes and all 
your countrymen, greetings. 

I have sent to you a force in assistance and the order to make as king for you 
Xusro, son of your king Tiridates, so that, having been established in good order, 
you may serve us faithfully. Be well.' 

As is the case with the history of Agathangelos, the work of Moses of 
Chorene confronts us with serious chronological difficulties, and this with 
regard to its date of composition as well as the sequence of the narrative. 
Moses himself claims to have composed his work in the fifth century and 
to have been a contemporary of St Mastoc'. The debate over the date is 
ongoing but recent scholarship has forcefully argued in favour of a date of 
composition in the eighth or ninth century 43 As far as the narrative itself 
is concerned, in many places the work contradicts the information given 
by other authors. Nevertheless, the text throws much light on the situation 
of Armenia during the first half of the fourth century. After the victory of 

39 See Redgate 1998: 113—39. 

40 On this passage see also Thomson 1980: 257-8. 

41 Such an 'agreement 1 is also referred to by Agathangelos 877, 'Similarly with great happiness he showed 
love for king Tiridates as a dear brother especially because of his knowledge of God; furthermore he 
made a treaty with him, holding the faith which was in Christ the lord as the common denominator, 
so that they might preserve assuredly and for ever a steadfast friendship between the kingdoms' (tr. 
T Greenwood); see also Epic Histories in. 21. 

42 Cf. Thomson 1980; 258 with n. 3. 43 See Thomson 1980: 1— 61; Mahe and Mahe 1993. 

182 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

Galerius over the Sasanians in the year 298 Tiridates had been placed on the 
Armenian throne as a Roman client king. Presumably he had supported 
Rome's anti-Christian policy during the reign of Diocletian, and when 
he decided to convert to Christianity and the Christian religion became 
the official, publicly promoted religion also in the Roman Empire, this 
brought the two states even closer. 44 In contrast, the relationship with the 
Zoroastrian Sasanian Empire was bound to deteriorate dramatically 45 The 
persecutions of the Christians in the Sasanian Empire that began during 
the reign of Sapur II clearly reveal that the relationship between West 
and East was changing for the worse after the Constantinian revolution. 
Accordingly, Moses of Chorene's letter of the Armenians to the Roman 
emperor Constantius stems from the fear that the Sasanians would renew 
their attempts to take possession of the country. The petition for military 
support against the claims of the 'godless Persians' is now accompanied by 
a reference to the emperor's duty to act as the patron of Christianity as a 

Elsewhere we also hear about the emperor's all-embracing care for the 
Christians, which applied also to the Christians in the Sasanian Empire 
and inevitably irritated the Persian king (31). Numerous sources attest to 
the continuing confrontations between the followers of the Christian faith 
and those of the Zoroastrian fire cult, which provoked intervention by the 
great powers in Armenia. The changes with regard to the religious affairs 
in Armenia meant that the already explosive situation in this region was 
aggravated. It is thus not surprising that Sapur lis far reaching political 
ambitions also took aim at Armenia. 

Ammianus Marcellinus xxvii.12.1—4 46 

(1) The Persian king, the now aged Sapur (II), 47 who from the very beginning of 
his reign had always been tempted by raids, seemed well disposed to us with his 
people for a short while after the death of the emperor Julian and after the shameful 
peace 48 was struck; but then he spurned the promise of the agreements made under 
Jovian and laid his hand on Armenia in order to bring it under his rule as if the 
validity of the agreements had been erased. (2) At first he used various tricks and 
inflicted fairly light harm on this densely populated country by soliciting some of 

44 Again, scholars do not accept this reconstruction of events unanimously; see above, p. 128 with n. 47. 

45 According to Chaumont 1987a: 427, 'Christianization tended to strengthen Armenia's link with the 
Roman Empire and to set back the Iranian cultural influence.' 

4 For another English translation that includes the following paragraphs see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 

47 The author describes events of the last years of Sapur lis long reign, the years after 367. 
4 This is the peace treaty of 363 which was concluded between Jovian and Sapur II (18). 

26 Armenia 183 

the influential men and satraps or by surprising others with unexpected raids. (3) 
Then he used a carefully calculated mix of flattery and perjury in order to get at 
King Arsaces himself. He gave instructions to take the king, who had been invited 
to a banquet, to a secret door, to tear his eyes out and to bind him in silver chains, 
which among this people is held as a consolation in the punishment of men of 
rank, if only a small one; 49 then he had him banished to a fortress called Agabana, 50 
where he was tortured and then punished with death by the sword. (4) After that, 
so that his perjury would not leave anything undefiled, he expelled Sauromaces, 
who ruled over Iberia by Roman authority, and handed over the rule over the same 
people to a certain Aspacures; he even crowned the man in order to show how 
much he disrespected our authority. 51 

In February of 364 Jovian died unexpectedly and Sapur II embarked on an 
offensive against Armenia. 52 In the above passage, Ammianus Marcellinus 
criticises the Persian advance sharply. The author emphasises Sapur lis 
aggressive policy and his intention to conquer the areas that his ancestors 
had controlled. It is noteworthy that Ammianus' words contradict his own 
account of the peace of 363 (xxv.7.12; 18) according to which the Romans 
broke the treaty when they refused to support Armenia in the event of a 
Persian invasion. Be that as it may, the Persian king met with strong oppo- 
sition in Armenia. Whereas the Armenian Christians tended to support the 
West and the still numerous Zoroastrians sided with the Persians, the inter- 
ests of the almost independent 'feudal' nobles were not as clear cut because 
the latter above all wanted to retain their autonomy. Ammianus mentions 
that it took Sapur II until 367 to capture and execute the Armenian king 
Arsaces, and this only by resorting to a ruse. Arsaces' son and successor to 
the throne, Papas, fled and sought protection from the Roman emperor 
Valens. Sapur II mustered a large force and took possession of large parts 
of Armenia. He also tried to expand Sasanian influence to the north, into 
Iberia, by deposing Sauromaces, whom Rome had invested with power in 
Iberia, and to install a man of his own choice, a certain Aspacures, as the 
new ruler. 

Rome reacted to this development without delay. Shortly after the peace 
agreement of 363 both powers were at war again. In 371 the armies of 
Sapur II and of the Roman emperor Valens confronted each other in open 

49 Cf. Hdt. m.130 and Curt, v.12.20. 

50 Proc. BP 1.3.7 mentions this fortress and calls it the place of oblivion 1 . 

51 When Iberia was to be divided between Sauromaces and Aspacures in 370 (Amm. XXVII. 12. 16— 17) 
Sapur II objected vehemently (Amm. xxx.2.2). The Sasanian king used the war against the Goths 
fought by the emperor Valens in order to expel Sauromaces once more from Iberia in 378 (Amm. 
xxx.2.4 and 7). 

52 Gutmann 1991: 162—91. 

184 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

battle. The outcome was not decisive but the armies withdrew to Ktesiphon 
and Antioch respectively. When Sapur II was informed that the claimant 
to the Armenian throne Papas, on whom he had hoped to exercise great 
influence, had been assassinated (374), 53 he tried to approach Valens in 
order to find a common solution to the Armenia problem. The following 
passage tells us about the agreement that was reached by the great powers. Its 
anonymous author wrote his work, which has mistakenly been attributed 
to P'awstos Buzand/Faustus of Byzantium, in the 470s in the Armenian 
language. Going back to local oral traditions, in an epic style, the source 
describes the history of the late Arsacid dynasty in Armenia. 

Epic Histories vi.i 

After the death of the commander of Armenia Manuel, no one could confirm the 
reign of Arsak (Arsaces) over the country; instead many of the Armenian nobles 
left the court and went to the king of Persia and surrendered to him the country 
of Armenia. And they requested from him a king [who was] an Arsacid. And he 
consented with great joy on his part to give by his word (a king) from the same line, 
from the Armenian Arsacid royal house, and through him to seize for himself the 
country of Armenia. Therefore he found a youth from that house named Xusro 
and he placed a crown on his head and gave him as his wife his sister Zruanduxt and 
placed at his disposal all the forces of his authority. And he gave his deputy Zich as 
a tutor for king Xusro. And they went and reached the country of Armenia. When 
king Arsaces saw them, he left the place and travelled and went to the borders of 
the Greeks. And the king of the Greeks was assisting Arsaces and the king of the 
Persians was assisting Xusro. 

Then the forces of the king of the Greeks came in support. And king Arsaces was 
around the district of Ekeleac and the Persian forces and king Xusro were in the 
district of Ayrayrat. Then envoys and messengers of the two kings, of the Greeks 
and of the Persians, shuttled back and forth between them. And as a result the 
king of the Greeks and the king of the Persians decided to make a joint agreement 
with one another, and they resolved that it would be better to divide the country 
of Armenia between themselves; for they said, 'Since this powerful and wealthy 
country is situated between us, it would be better if we were able to disorder and 
ruin this kingdom. First let us divide it into two through these two Arsacid kings, 
whom we have installed; then let us try to nibble away at them, to impoverish 
them, to intervene and reduce to submission so that they shall not be able to raise 
their heads between us.' 

And they approved this plan and they divided the country into two. The portion 
on the Persian side belonged to king Xusro and the portion on the Greek side 
belonged to king Arsaces. But many districts, being eaten away from these, were 

s3 Amm. xxx.i.1-23. 

26 Armenia 185 

cut off on this side and that side and only a small part from both countries was 
left to the two kings. S4 

However the two kings of Armenia, Arsaces and Xusro, who was Suren, the 
districts of the kingdom of Armenia remained on both sides between them. And 
the two Arsacid kings, having introduced boundaries between the two parts, were 
established in peace, and the land of Armenia was in two parts, with two kings; 
they submitted in each portion to their respective king. But the portion of Xusro 
was larger than that of Arsaces. And many districts were separated from both of 
them. And the kingdom of Armenia was diminished, divided and scattered. And 
from that time on, it declined in importance. 

As we do not have any contemporary sources on the so called partition 
of Armenia, this late source is our most important testimony. The text 
confirms on the one hand the already existing division of Armenia into 
two parts, one within the Roman, the other within the Persian sphere of 
influence, on the other hand the desire of the great powers to dissolve the 
Armenian monarchy and to divide up the country between the Roman 
and the Sasanian Empires. Both sides had learnt that tensions repeatedly 
flared up because Armenian issues had not been resolved and wanted to 
find a mutually acceptable and permanent solution. The contemporary 
historian Ammianus Marcellinus confirms this assessment of the situa- 
tion by describing how the Sasanian king urged the emperor Valens to 
get rid of the notorious trouble spot, Armenia. 55 Initially Valens refused 
but eventually gave in to Sapur's urging. The fact that the Goths were 
about to invade Roman territory along the Danube forced the emperor to 
retreat from the Eastern theatre of war. In 363 Armenia, which had been 
the reason for numerous conflicts between West and East since the begin- 
ning of Roman— Iranian relations, was factually divided into two spheres 
of influence: the Sasanians took possession of Greater Armenia, and Rome 
was assigned Lesser Armenia, which comprised only a fifth of the size of 
Greater Armenia. Soon after, this partition of Armenia was officially con- 
firmed during the reign of Sapur III (383-8). s6 During the following years 
the situation stabilised. Whereas in c. 390 the Romans replaced Arsaces with 
a comes in charge of the administration of the areas under Roman rule while 
preserving a considerable degree of autonomy for this part of Armenia, the 
Sasanians left the monarchy intact and as a subject of the Sasanian king 

54 This alludes to the Armenian territorial losses in the South and East, where land was ceded to the 

Albanians and Sasanians; cf. Toumanoff 1963: 132. 
" Amm. in. 2. 2. 
,6 About this treaty on the partition of Armenia see Doise 1945: 274-7; Stock 1978a: 165—82; 

Blockley 1987: 222—34; Gutmann 1991: 230—2 and 260 with further references; Greatrex 2000: 


i86 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

a descendant of the Arsacid dynasty continued to rule the Persian sector 
of the country. In 428, however, the situation changed when Bahram V. 
Gor (420—39) decided to depose king Artashes (ArdasTr) as well as the head 
of the Armenian Church, the catholicos Sahak, and to appoint a Persian 
governor who would henceforth administer Armenian affairs. 57 Sahak was 
replaced initially by an Armenian Surmak, and then by two Syrians. This 
final loss of independence and an anti-Christian policy pursued by the 
Sasanian rulers in the following period led to a split within the ranks of the 
Armenian nobility into pro- and anti-Sasanian factions; moreover, during 
the course of the fifth century numerous military conflicts arose between 
the Armenians and the Sasanians. 58 Two Armenian authors, Lazarus of 
Pharp, whose history was composed around 500, taking up where the Epic 
Histories end and continuing to 485, and Elise, who wrote his History of 
Vardan and the Armenian War around 570, describe the last unsuccessful 
revolt of the Armenians against the Sasanian overlordship in 450/51 and 
the ensuing fate of the Armenian captives in the Sasanian Empire. 59 The 
following passage by the Syrian chronicler Joshua the Stylite shows that the 
tense situation in Armenia continued to bear an impact on the relations 
between Byzantium and Persia. 

Joshua Stylites 21 (249.15-2}) 

Now, when the Armenians who were under the rule of Kavadh heard that the 
Romans had not replied to him with a truce, they took heart and were encouraged, 
and they uprooted the fire shrines that had been built in their country by the 
Persians, and they killed the Magians in their midst. And Kavadh sent against 
them a certain marzban, 60 with an army, that he might punish them and again 
force them to worship fire; but they fought with him and destroyed both him and 
his army. They sent envoys to the emperor in order to submit to him, but he was 
not willing to receive them, so that it might not be supposed that he was provoking 
the war with the Persians. 

The author of these lines wrote a very detailed and informative description 
of Roman-Sasanian conflicts, and in particular those of the fifth century. 
His work is one of the oldest examples of Syriac historiography and also 
yields much information regarding the social and economic climate in 

w Cf. Chaumont 1987a: 429, 'Thereafter the government of Armenia was conducted by marzbans, 
who were sometimes picked from the Armenian nobility. The first marzban appointed by Vahram 
was Veh-Mihr-Sapur.' 

58 On a detailed analysis of the military as well as diplomatic activities see Yuzbashyan 1986: 51—5 (in 
Russian with an English summary) and Luther 1997: 141— 4. 

59 Cf. Thomson 1982 and 1991. 

60 Title of the governor of a border province and military commander of the Sasanian border troops. 

26 Armenia 187 

Edessa and the surrounding area at the beginning of the sixth century 
as well as the history of the Sasanian Empire during the reigns of Peroz, 
Balas, Kavadh I and Gamasp. 61 The passage throws light on the inner 
affairs of Greater Armenia, 62 which were closely linked to the increasingly 
complex and difficult foreign policy of the Sasanian Empire. Here, the 
growing threat in the East by the Hephthalites affected internal affairs. The 
'crisis' reached a first peak when in the summer of 484 the Hephthalites 
defeated the Persians and killed King Peroz (459-84). The situation was 
exacerbated by severe financial problems. According to Joshua the Stylite 
the two successors of Peroz, Balas (484-8) and Kavadh I (488-97/499- 
531) were forced to approach the Western opponent and ask for gold from 
the imperial treasury. Kavadh's aggressive tone was unmistakable — the 
king threatened Byzantium with war should his request be turned down/ 3 
Nevertheless, both Zeno and his successor Anastasius refused the desired 
financial support. 

Unrest in Armenia was thus also an expression of the internal problems 
of the Sasanian Empire at the beginning of the rule of Kavadh I, which led 
to confrontations with various peoples along the borders of the empire/ 4 
Joshua the Stylite specifically points to the Armenian unwillingness to 
accept Persian attempts to convert them to the Zoroastrian faith/ 5 The 
destructions of the fire temples — symbols of Persian rule — and the assassi- 
nation of numerous Magians by Armenians triggered war. Initial Sasanian 
attempts to consolidate their rule by military action were unsuccessful. 
It is not a coincidence that the upheavals in Armenia were accompanied 
by the Armenians' desire to establish diplomatic contacts with Byzantium 
and to procure Roman protection, a scenario that once more illustrates 
Armenia's delicate role between the two great powers. Ultimately, if there 
was such 'conscious' reasoning, Armenia could only 'survive' through an 
alliance with either of the two opponents. Anastasius, however, refused any 
help for Armenia because from a Persian perspective this could have been 
viewed as an intervention in Sasanian affairs and thus a valid reason for war. 
The emperor's decision reflects an attitude that applies to the fifth century 
as a whole, namely for Byzantium to hold back along the Eastern fron- 
tier of the empire rather than to risk any aggressive behaviour towards the 
Eastern opponent. Armenia was thus left to its own devices. The Armenians' 
attempt to ally themselves with Rome had also been motivated by religion 

61 Cf. Luther 1997: 1-4. 6z For the general background see Thomson 2000: 66z—yj. 

63 Ios. Styl. 18 and 19. 64 Luther 1997: 145. 

65 On the rigorous Sasanian religious policy in Armenia under Yazdgard II and Peroz see Chaumont 
1987a: 429—30. 

i88 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

as well as a desire for more autonomy. The plan failed but the unrest in 
Armenia further weakened the monarchy of Kavadh I. Conflicts broke out 
within the Sasanian Empire, and eventually Kavadh I was deposed. 66 Only 
with the help of the Hephthalites did he manage to return to the throne 
in 498/99. Shortly after, Anastasius once more refused to grant financial 
support to the king, which triggered the outbreak of the first Byzantine— 
Sasanian War in the sixth century (12.). Apparently Kavadh remembered 
well that the Armenians had revolted against Sasanian rule a decade ear- 
lier - the first Persian attack in August 502 targeted the capital of Lesser 
Armenia, Theodosio(u)polis. 67 Once more Armenia was the setting for a 
war between Byzantium and the Sasanian Empire. 68 

27: Protection of the frontier 

The following comments focus on an area that was of exceptional strategic 
importance in antiquity and played a crucial role in relations between 
Rome and its Eastern neighbours: the Caucasus (map 12). 9 Only very few 
routes existed by which this region between the Black and the Caspian 
Seas, characterised by its huge mountain ranges, could be crossed. Apart 
from the coastal routes along the Black Sea and along the Caspian Sea 
the most important pass was the so-called Caucasian Gates. 70 These portae 
Caucasiae are different from theportae Caspiae, which are situated south of 
the Caspian Sea and often confused with the former in the ancient sources. 
Theportae Caucasiae, however, a narrow passage through the Caucasus, are 
the only route to Iberia and this is why they are sometimes also calledportae 
Hiberiae. Procopius describes how the Huns settling in the Transcaucasus 
and as far as the Maeotic Lake (Sea of Asov) invaded Persian as well as 
Roman territories through this pass, which was set there by nature just as 
if made by the hand of man. The author explains that their horses did 
not come to any harm nor did they have to take detours or overcome 

On the so-called Mazdakite revolt and its consequences for inner affairs in Persia see II. 

67 Ios. Styl. 48; Malal. 16.9 (p. 398); Zach. HE vii. 3 (22.15-22); cf. also Luther 1997: 178-9 and Greatrex 
1998: 79-80. 

68 On the political and religious situation in Armenia during the reign of Kavadh I see Chaumont 
1987a: 430—2; on the general history and culture of Armenia in late antiquity see Redgate 1998 (repr. 
1999); esp. 140-64 and Thomson 1999: XI— xxx. 

69 Toumanoff 1954; 109—90; Lang 1962: 25—8; Braund 1986: 31—49 and 1989: 31—43; Dabrowa 1989: 
77— in; Dreher 1996; 188—207. 

70 Luther 1997: 105 n. 29 locates two strategically important passes through the Caucasus, namely the 
so-called Alans' Gate or Dariel pass, situated to the north of Tiflis (= portae Caucasiae), and the 
Derbend pass, the Caspian Gates, to the Persian Atropatene. 

2j Protection of the frontier 


Map 12: The Caucasus 

precipitations; that when they went through other passes they did so with 
great difficulty, had to change their horses and were forced to make great 
detours through steep territory 71 

The great powers showed great interest in the Caucasian countries 
because they were hoping to engage in trade in the area 72 while stay- 
ing off the enemy's territory and also because of the necessity to protect 
the frontier against attacks from the north. Already during the Arsacid 
period the Transcaucasian peoples had represented a lingering force that 
was easily mobilised and intervened in the rivalries of the areas in the 
Caucasus and along the Caspian Sea and seriously affected the balance of 
power. 73 

Iberia was a small but because of its location an important country, 
which represented a bulwark against the peoples attacking from the north 
(map 12). 74 The fact that they controlled the portae Caucasiae enabled 

71 Proc. BP 1. 10. 3-8; in this passage Procopius also confuses the Caspian with the Iberian Gates; Veh 
1970: 465—6 and Standish 1970: 17—24. 

72 Cf. the references on p. 202 with n. 147. 7:f Halfmann 1986: 43; Toumanoff 1971: 111-58. 

74 On the trade related aspects of controlling Iberia see Magie 1919: 302—3 and Charlesworth 1970: 106; 
on the geographical situation of Iberia see Hewsen 1992: 128—41; Kettenhofen 1995c: 22—3. 

190 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

the Romans to intervene before the Persians could form political alliances 
with northern nomadic peoples. During the first and second centuries 
cooperation between Rome and Iberia proved advantageous for both states, 
and this at a time when the Romans were confronted by the Parthian 
expansion westwards and their political interests in Armenia were at stake. 
The peoples in the mountainous regions south of the Caucasus also feared 
the Parthians, who were thus the common enemies of Rome and Iberia. 
While the Iberians hoped that close contacts between the two would secure 
their own freedom, the Romans saw these contacts as a means to stop the 
Eastern power from invading this strategically important region. 

The end of Parthian rule did not change the situation. Common interests 
in the Caucasus intensified the relations between Rome and the Sasanian 
Empire. 75 As part of the foedus of 244 between Philip the Arab and Sapur 
I the Roman emperor was obliged to make annual subsidiary payments 
to the Sasanian king (16), money which had previously been used for 
the protection of the fortresses in the Caucasus. This meant that Sapur 
I was henceforth responsible for maintaining the Caucasian passes. The 
regulations of 244 also entailed that the Roman emperor had to withdraw 
from this strategically important region where the Sasanians now gained 
much influence. In the military confrontations of the following period 
the Iberian king may have fought on the Persian side; in the great Sapur 
Inscription the Iberian king is listed among the subjects of the Persian 
king 7 and in the Inscription of Paikuli he is still among those who show 
reverence to Narse at the beginning of his reign. 77 

Only when Narse was defeated and the two powers concluded the treaty 
of 298 (6 and 17) did Rome regain hegemony over the important coun- 
tries Kolchis and Iberia, which form modern Georgia. The sixth-century 
Byzantine historian Peter the Patrician states that the rulers of Iberia had 
to receive the symbols of their power from Rome. 7 The territories which 
Sapur I had conquered in this part of the Caucasus had therefore been 
lost by the end of the third century. In 298 Diocletian achieved obvious 
strategic advantages and thereby continued the existing policy of protect- 
ing Roman interests around the Black Sea and of securing the Caucasian 
passes. It is doubtful whether the Caucasus region was also an issue in the 
agreements of the year 363 (18). However, John the Lydian, who wrote his 

75 On the Sasanian interests see Yuzbashian 1996: 143-64. 

76 SKZ§ 44 (p. 355 ed. Back); on the successes of Sapur I in the Caucasus see Kettenhofen 1982c: 42—3. 

77 Inscription of Paikuli § 92 (p. 71, eel. Skjaervo) . 

78 Petr. Patr. frg. 14 (FHG iv 189). 

2j Protection of the frontier 191 

work De magistratibus during the first half of the sixth century, conveys this 
impression. 79 

John Lydus, De magistratibus 111.52 

As the ankles of the Caucasus are split by nature - towards the sun when it 
rises under the constellation of the Lion at the narrow beginning of the Caucasus, 
towards the north wind by the Caspian Sea, an entrance was created for a barbarian 
people settling around Hyrkania but unknown both to us and the Persians. 80 
Through this entrance they attack Persian territory in the East, Roman territory 
in the North. And as long as the Romans were in control of Artaxata and also of 
further territories they were present there and thus used to go against them. But 
when during the reign of Jovian they had given up this and many other territories 81 
the Persians were not strong enough to protect their own and the previously Roman 
territory and therefore on both sides Armenia was constantly afflicted by unbearable 
unrest. 82 In consequence then after the luckless reign of Jovian talks took place 
between our hyparch Salutius 83 and the most eminent Persians, and later with 
Yazdgard, 8 ** to the effect that both states would share the costs and establish a 
fortress at the described entrance and set up a garrison in these places in order to 
stop the barbarians from pouring through. However, as the Romans were occupied 
by their wars in the West and North the Persians - being closer to the attacks of 
the barbarians - were forced to erect a fortress there, which they call Biraparach in 
their language, 85 and stationed troops there. And no enemy managed to come in. 

John the Lydian, who was born in Philadelphia (Lydia) and became a 
teacher of rhetoric in Constantinople, is the author of several works; to 
some extent his accounts are confused and often superficial but they nev- 
ertheless provide important information on cultural and administrative 
aspects of the Roman Empire. In particular the author's knowledge of the 
situation in the eastern Roman Empire seems excellent. The above passage 
comes from a work that not only informs us about Roman officials during 
the republic and the imperial period into late antiquity but also frequently 
refers to geography and natural history. In spite of evident chronological 
inconsistencies 8 Lydus' narrative throws light on the special geographical 

79 On the author and his work see Carney 1971; for text and English translation see Bandy 1983a and b. 

80 John Lydus must be referring to the portae Caucasiae. 

81 On thefoedus concluded between Jovian and Sapur in the year 363 see 18. 

82 On the 'partition 1 of Armenia between the great powers see above, pp. 184-6 with n. 56. 

5 As praefectus praetorio Orientis Salutius played a major role in the successful conclusion of the peace 
treaty of 363. 

84 Luther 1997: 105 n. 28 suggests that this man is neither Yazdgard I (399—421) nor Yazdgard II 
(439—57) but an otherwise unknown Persian diplomat who led the negotiations with Salutius; such 
negotiations would then have taken place before Salutius left office, that is before 366—8. 

85 This fortress must be identical with the Iuroeipaach mentioned by Priscus, frg. 41. 1 (= FHG IV 105). 

86 For a detailed analysis see Blockley 1985a: 63—74 and Luther 1997: 104—8. 

192 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

and political role the Caucasus region played between the two great pow- 
ers. Three aspects are crucial: first the dangers posed by invasions of the 
'barbarians', secondly the fact that by themselves neither Rome nor the 
Persian Empire were able to guard the Caucasus region and thus to protect 
their own territory and, thirdly, the necessity to make arrangements for the 
protection of the frontier together, to guarantee this by official agreements 
and in particular to assign and agree on the financial contributions of each 

In this context the ancient author also refers to the peace treaty of the year 
363 (18). He confirms once more the loss of important strategic positions 
that Jovian had to accept after Julian's catastrophic defeat in his Persian 
War (8). As after 363 s7 the Romans withdrew from the Caucasus extremely 
slowly, the Persians thought that they had to increase their efforts to protect 
the region. John the Lydian seems to indicate that the Romans henceforth 
no longer met their financial obligations with regard to the Caucasus. 88 In 
the end the Persians could not accept the fact that the Roman payments 
had ceased and they decided to invade Syria and Cappadocia. 89 It is also 
significant that the author refers to negotiations regarding the costs for 
building a fortress in order to protect the portae Caucasiae and for setting 
up a garrison. However, it would appear that it did not come to an official 

In spite of the hostile atmosphere between Rome and Persia, both shared 
an interest in fending off bellicose nomadic tribes. However, an agreement 
to that effect would have had to be based on an alliance that most probably 
did not form until the beginning of the fifth century, and not, as John the 
Lydian claims, as early as 363. 9 ° Certainly from the end of the fourth century 
and with the increasing frequency of the attacks by the Huns, which posed 
a serious threat to the West and the East, the protection of the Caucasian 
passes became a crucial issue for both great powers. 91 This was still the 
case when in the following period Rome had to turn to the more and more 
pressing problems along the frontiers along the Rhine and the Danube and 
the Sasanians alone often had to bear the financial burden of protecting 
the Caucasus region. As a consequence the relations tended to deteriorate 
and the outbreak of the wars of 421—2 and 441 (19) was directly linked to 

87 The confrontations between Valens and Sapur II in Iberia between 362 and 378 (Amm. xxvn.12.1-2 
and xxvil. 30. 2— 3) reveal that the great powers continued to fight over the country; cf. also Chrysos 
1993: 183. 

88 Luther 1997: 105-6. 89 Lyd. Mag. m. 53. 

90 Synelli 1986: 106—20. 9I Chrysos 1993: 183. 

2j Protection of the frontier 193 

the fact that the Romans had failed to comply with the Persian request to 
contribute to the protection of the Caucasus. 92 

An account given by Priscus from Thracian Panion (c. 420 to after 474) 
regarding a Persian embassy to the Byzantine emperor Leo I (457—74) nicely 
illustrates the concerns. Priscus is the author of a lost Byzantine history, 
which covered the events between 434 and 474; the work primarily yields 
information on the confrontations between Byzantium and the Huns but 
also gives us insight into the balance of power between Romans, Persians, 
Huns, Hephthalites and the Lazes. The surviving fragments are assembled 
in the Excerpta de legationibus by Constantinus Porphyrogenitus (905— 59) , 93 
Priscus himself participated in two embassies sent to Attila, the king of the 
Huns, in 449 and to Rome in 450 by Theodosius II (408-50) and therefore 
must have known the contemporary diplomatic events quite well. 

Priscus frg. 41. 1 (= FHG iv,frg. 31) 

There was also an embassy from the Persian king complaining that some of their 
people were seeking refuge with the Romans . . . They also requested that the 
Romans contributed money for maintaining the fortress Iuroeipaach, which is 
situated by the Caspian Gates, 94 or at least commanded soldiers to its protection 
because they would no longer bear the costs and protection of the place by them- 
selves. For if they withdrew the attacks of the tribes in the area would bear an 
impact not only on the Persians but also on the Romans. They added that it was 
also necessary that these supported them with money for the war against the so 
called Kidarite Huns; for it would be to their own advantage if they defeated this 
people and did not let them enter the Roman Empire. The Romans responded that 
they would send someone 9S who would discuss all these matters with the Parthian 
king. 96 For neither were they receiving refugees nor did they keep the Magians from 
practising their religion. With regard to the protection of the fortress Iuroeipaach 
and the war against the Huns, they claimed that the Persians had taken these on 
in their own accord and did not have a right to request money from the Romans. 

The ambassadors referred to the Kidarite Huns, who during the reign of 
King Peroz (459-84) represented a serious threat primarily to the Sasani- 
ans. 97 Leo therefore tried to delay the negotiations. According to another 
passage in Priscus, in 467 the emperor rejected a new Persian request to 

91 Luther 1997: 106. 

93 Doblhofer 1955: 11-82 and Blockley 1983: 222—377. 

94 Priscus confuses the Caspian Gates at Derbend with the portae Caucasiae. 

95 The Romans sent the patricius Constantius to enter negotiations with Peroz (459—84). which ended 
without any actual results; cf Priscus frg. 41.3 (= FHG IV 106). 

96 Priscus refers to the Sasanian ruler Peroz. 

97 Blockley 1985a: 66 and Luther 1997: 112-16; see also Blockley 1981: 121. 

194 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

support the fortress Iuroeipaach by sending either money or troops, say- 
ing that each side should defend their own country and maintain their 
own fortresses. 98 In contrast, during the first half of his reign the Byzan- 
tine emperor Zeno (474—5/476—91) did make subsidiary payments to Peroz, 
although these should probably not be labelled 'tribute', as the Syrian chron- 
icler Joshua the Stylite clarifies in his detailed account." 

Immediately after the death of the Sasanian king (484) the payments 
for the fortification of the Caucasian passes ceased. 100 This led to new 
tensions. When in the year 502 Kavadh I (488-97/499-531) asked the 
emperor Anastasius (491—518) to send him money for his battle against 
the Hephthalites, 101 the emperor's rejection led to the outbreak of the first 
Byzantine-Sasanian War in the sixth century 102 Apparently, the Persian 
ruler had offered Anastasius one of the Caucasian fortresses in turn; during 
the peace negotiations in the spring of 531 Kavadh I accused Anastasius of 
having been the aggressor by saying, among other things, that the emperor 
had not been willing to 'acquire' the Caspian Gates. If he had done so, he 
would have had to maintain an army there for all times and bear a great 
financial burden in order to fend off the barbarians. 103 

Both the question of how the costs for maintaining the Caucasian 
fortresses would be met and the cessation of the annual payments triggered 
many new conflicts way into the sixth century 104 It is thus not surpris- 
ing that when Justinian I (527-79) and Xusro I (531-79) tried to put an 
end to the second Roman-Persian War in the sixth century in 562 (20) 
the diplomatic efforts towards a comprehensive agreement also focused on 
the protection of the shared border and its defence against the bellicose 
nomadic peoples attacking from the north. According to Menander the 
Guardsman the Persians agreed to march against invasions of the Huns, 
the Alans and other barbarians in the Caucasus region whereas the Romans 
promised not to send troops into the area and thus to give up any influence 
in the region. 105 This means that the Persians, who had firmly established 
their military presence in the Caucasus by the sixth century, 10 were now 
willing to defend this insecure border by themselves without insisting on 

58 Priscus frg. 47 (= FHG iv 107). 

99 Ios. Styl. 8; see the detailed commentary in Luther 1997: 101-8; also Blockley 1985a: 66—7, 'The 
insistence of Joshua that the payments made by Zeno were no tribute suggests that some thought 
they were, perhaps because the Persians had attempted to convert an occasional payment into a 
regular. 1 

100 Ios. Styl. 18. 

101 Proc. BP 1. 7. 1-4 and Ios. Styl. 20 and 23; on Kavadh's requests see Blockley 1985a: 68. 

102 Greatrex 1998: 73-119. mi Proc. BP 1.16.4. '°* Blockley 1985a: 68-74. 
105 Menander Protector, frg. 11. Io6 Kramers 1935—7: 613-18. 

28 Economy and trade 195 

compensation from Byzantium. This agreement stayed in place until the 
end of the relations. 107 

28: Economy and trade 

Although the numerous military conflicts between Rome and the Sasanian 
Empire impeded uninterrupted trade, both sides showed a strong interest 
in close economic relations. Primarily in order to secure the revenues from 
customs duties they designed a diplomatic framework which established 
the conditions for a regulated exchange of goods. Numerous treaties that 
were concluded between the empires and their details on economic and 
trade related issues attest to this. 

When relations between Rome and the Parthian kingdom intensified it 
was above all luxury goods from the Far East, in particular silk and silk 
products, which were traded at great profit and therefore important goods 
of trade in East and West. 108 The ancient sources reveal the wide range of 
goods that were imported from the East and had to be declared, for example 
spices, incense, gems or even wild beasts and enslaved Indian eunuchs. 109 
They also attest to the wider circulation of these goods. 110 

The fourth-century Latin work of an anonymous author, the so called 
Expositio totius mundi et gentium, gives a description of all territories of the 
ancient world and their populations, including trade and its products. 111 

Expositio totius mundi et gentium 19 (pp. 153—4, e d- Rouge) 

After these there are the Persians, who are the neighbours of the Romans. The 
history books say that they are particularly bad and brave in war. . . in all other 
respects, however, they are said to have everything in abundance; for the nations 
neighbouring their territory are given the opportunity to engage in trade and 
therefore they themselves also seem to have plenty of everything. 

In this passage the anonymous author, who draws on an unknown Greek 
source, 112 emphasises the Sasanian trade policy. For rather selfish reasons 
they permitted the neighbouring peoples to engage in trade as they pleased. 
The Sasanians made good profit from the exchange of luxury goods, not 
only silk but also precious stones, spices, incense and ivory. The traditional 
trade route was the famous Silk Road (map 13), " 3 which went from China 

107 Blockley 1985a: 72. Io8 Cf. Young 2001. 

109 Dig. xxxix.4.16 (7); cf. also Pigulevskaja 1969: 78-9. 

110 On the wide range of goods that entered the Roman Empire see Miller 1969: 34—109; in general on 
the Roman eastern trade see Raschke 1978: 604—1378; Loewe 1971: 166—79. 

111 Rouge 1966 and Drexhage 1983. IIZ On the author see Pigulevskaja 1969: 46-50. 
113 Haussig 1983 and Klimkeit 1990. 

196 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

via Central Asia, Horasan and Northern Persia to Mesopotamia from where 
the goods could then be shipped to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean." 4 
Trade relations between the Graeco-Roman world and the Far East and 
India existed already during the early Principate. In late antiquity these 
contacts intensified. 

Until late in the third century the most important trade route from the 
Persian Gulf to the centres of the Roman province of Syria and the Mediter- 
ranean ports followed the river Euphrates." 5 There are early attestations to 
the transport of goods to Nikephorion-Kallinikos via the Euphrates, and 
from there to the markets in Edessa, Batnai or Harran, from where the 
merchants transported their merchandise to the Mediterranean centres." 6 
Isidorus of Charax, who was a geographer of the Augustan period, gives 
us a detailed description of the major trade routes and bases for supplies. 
According to the author the traffic of goods went from the Parthian capital 
Seleucia on the Tigris/Ktesiphon to the Roman Empire via the trading 
centres along the Euphrates, namely Neapolis, Anath," 7 Belesi Biblada," 8 
Phaliga, Nikephorion, to Zeugma." 9 

The intense trade between the Far East, India and the Persian Gulf did 
not cease after the fall of Hatra (2.2.) and Palmyra (13); Persian traders 
themselves participated in the lucrative trade with India. 120 After 273 at the 
latest, possibly already after the fall of Hatra, the traffic of goods may have 
shifted towards the Tigris river, and as a result this waterway, which so far 
had been rather insignificant for trade purposes, became much more attrac- 
tive. 121 This view is supported by the decision of 298 to make Nisibis the 
only centre for an exchange of goods. 122 Because of a lack of archaeological 
investigation along the Tigris we do not have any immediate testimonies 
for such a 'shift' of trade but new studies show that there were significant 
demographic movements from the Hatrene towards the Tigris. 123 Inten- 
sified settlement patterns throughout late antiquity can be observed also 

114 Bivar 1970: 1-11. 

115 See Young 2001: 188—90. Il6 Chaumont 1984: 63—107. 

117 Kennedy 1986: 103—4 ana Kennedy and Northedge 1988: 6—8. 

118 Kennedy and Riley 1990: 224-5. 

119 Isid. of Charax Mansiones Parthicae 1; on this source see Chaumont 1984: 63-107 and Luther 1997: 

120 Williams 1972: 97—109; Whitehouse and Williamson 1973: 29-49; Whitehouse 1996: 339—49 and 
Morony 2004: 184—8. 

121 This development also affected strategic considerations; according to Amm. xxm.3.1 before embark- 
ing on his Persian campaign Julian had to decide at Carrhae whether to take the route along the 
Tigris or along the Euphrates. 

122 See Millar 1996: 483-4, who argues that the peace of 298 indicates a possible shift of trade from the 
Euphrates to the Tigris. 

123 Hauser 2000: 187—201. 

28 Economy and trade 197 

for the parts of the Tigris that were under Roman control, 124 and these 
must have been a consequence of the increased significance of the Tigris 
for trade. However, as the ravines created by the course of the river become 
very narrow, hardly any transport of goods would have been possible above 
the Roman camps Castra Maurorum 125 and Bezabde. 126 Moreover, along 
this part of the Tigris the extremely barren mountain ridge of the Tur 
'Abdin (Mons Masius) to the West must have impeded regular trade so 
that goods going upstream must have been taken no further than Bezabde, 
most likely only to Castra Maurorum, from where they would have been 
transported along the southern edges of the Tur Abdin to Nisibis. 

In light of these topographical premises Nisibis, which was located 
in the northern Mesopotamian plain on the upper reaches of the 
Chaboras/Chabur, 127 almost inevitably became the new centre for long 
distance trade. 128 There were then several routes on which goods could be 
transported from Nisibis to Syria, via Edessa and Zeugma for example. 
In contrast to the 'caravan cities' Hatra and Palmyra the Roman colonia 
Nisibis, which was also the seat of the Roman governor of the province 
of Mesopotamia, was no longer the guarantor for an extended network 
of traffic but a huge trans-shipment centre. The Expositio totius mundi et 
gentium confirms the city's exceptional role. 

Expositio totius mundi et gentium 22 (p. 156, ed. Rouge) 

Mesopotamia, however, has many different cities of which I shall name but the 
most exceptional ones. There are, then, Nisibis and Edessa, which possess the best 
men in every respect, both clever merchants and good hunters. Above all they are 
wealthy as well as equipped with all sorts of goods. For they acquire their goods 
directly from the Persians, sell them throughout the entire Roman Empire and then 
engage in trade with the goods they purchase there, except for bronze and iron 
because it is not permitted to sell bronze and iron to enemies. 129 These cities, which 
will always remain standing through the wisdom of the gods and the emperor and 

124 On the location of Castra Maurorum see Ball 1989: 7—18 and 2003: 18—19. 

125 Ball 2003: 80-1. 

126 For a long time it has been suggested that Bezabde was located in the Turkish- Syrian border area 
close to Cizre; see Lightfoot 1983: 189—204; for new surveys locating Bezabde 13km further north 
see Algaze 1989: 248—52 and 1991: 191— 2. 

127 On the course and navigability of the Chaboras/Chabur see Tardieu 1990: 103-35. 

128 Also important because of its geographic location was Singara, a point of intersection between the 
course of the upper Chaboras/Chabur towards the Tigris and along the route from Hatra to Nisibis; 
on Singara see Oates 1968: 97—106 and Kessler 1980. 

129 For the export embargo on aeramentum etferrum see also Herodian iv.18; Dig. xxxix.4.11; Cod. lust. 
iv.53.1 (4); on further export embargos ibid, iv.41.1-2 and iv.63.2. 


6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

Map 13: The Silk Road from China to the Roman Orient 

which have famous walls/ 30 in war always thwart the bravery of the Persians; 131 
they are enthusiastic about their business and well engaged in trade with the entire 

130 In late antiquity city walls were considered as sanctum and could not be mended or changed without 
explicit permission by the emperor; cf. Dig., 1-8.8.2 and 1,8. 11; on this issue see Winter 1996: 

131 The Sasanians had attacked Nisibis repeatedly during the reign of Constantius II (7). 

28 Economy and trade 


Map 13: (cont.) 

By the fourth century Nisibis was thus a crucial centre of trade and also 
played a great strategic role. As the passage suggests, for the purpose of 
defending the Roman Eastern frontier the city served as an essential fortress. 
Ammianus Marcellinus speculates that had it not been for Nisibis — orientis 
firmissimum claustrum — at this point the Roman East would have been 
under Sasanian rule for some time. 132 Quite consistently, the same author 

132 Amm. xxv.8.14. 

200 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

labels the foedus of 363 (18) and the cessation of Nisibis to the Persians as 
'humiliating agreements' accepted by Jovian. 133 

But why did Rome insist in 298 (17) to make it the only place for the 
exchange of goods between West and East? There may have been several 
reasons. The fact that the treaty of 298 made Nisibis the only place of 
trade — in an area where numerous caravan routes and traffic routes existed — 
inevitably channelled the Sasanian trade. However, the changes initiated 
by Rome with an eye to centralisation did not bear that much impact 
on the trade of the sought after luxury goods from the Far East because 
these had always been exchanged in the great centres of trade such as 
Nisibis. The changes affected above all the local trade in the border areas 
and the exchange of goods within Mesopotamia. The individual tradesman, 
merchant or peasant who had offered his ware at the nearest market now had 
to decide whether to expose himself to the risks of the long and exhausting 
journey or not. According to the treaty of 298 merchants had to take their 
goods, sometimes covering long distances, all the way to Nisibis where 
Roman merchants received them. 

When Roman merchants received goods from the Far East and from 
India that had travelled through Persian territories into the border regions 
along the Euphrates and Tigris, 134 they had to pay customs duties fixed by 
the Eastern power. Some scholars believe that the revenues accumulated in 
this way allowed the Sasanians to build up their army, to conscribe Arab 
mercenaries and finally to expand westwards. 135 For the Romans the fact 
that their only overland trade with China and India was via the Sasanians 
entailed high costs in peace time and a cessation of the eastern trade in times 
of war. 136 In order to secure its eastern trade the Romans therefore were 
primarily interested in breaking the Sasanian monopoly as mediators for 
the exchange of goods along the Roman Eastern frontier and in acquiring 
trade centres outside the Persian Empire. 

Accordingly, the Romans intended to limit the activities of Persian mer- 
chants and to control these. Moreover, they were interested in fixed prices 
as well as their own revenues from customs duties, which were normally 

153 Ibid, xxv.7.13. 

134 For some time Sasanian merchants monopolised the trade in the Persian Gulf and the Indian 
Ocean so that the Sasanians were able to control the trade with India; cf. Williams 1972: 97—109; 
Whitehouse and Williamson 1973: 29—49; Whitehouse 1996: 339-49. 

135 Haussig 1959: 138. 

13 In late antiquity Roman maritime trade between the Red Sea and India therefore became more and 
more important; cf. Sidebotham 1986a: 16-36. 

28 Economy and trade 201 

raised by cities that had customs offices. 137 It is thus not surprising that 
in 298 the Roman ambassador Sicorius Probus insisted on Nisibis as the 
only place of trade in Mesopotamia. Fiscal considerations must have been 
responsible for including this clause in the treaty because in consequence 
every Sasanian merchant had to pay customs duties if he wanted to sell 
his goods in Nisibis, which at the end of the third century was part of the 
Roman sphere of influence. 138 We cannot say with certainty how high these 
customs duties were. It is possible that the Sasanians now had to submit 
25 per cent instead of the customary 12.5 per cent of the selling price. 139 
By imposing high customs duties Diocletian intended to break the Persian 
monopoly on the silk trade and to add a counter weight to the prices 
dictated by the Persians. 

While the Roman line of reasoning seems clear and financial advantages 
on the Roman side possible, it is difficult to estimate how far the decision 
of 298 had an overall effect on the Sasanian state budget. 140 It looks as if 
the clause did not diminish the revenues of the Sasanian state because it 
did not lose its freedom to impose customs duties from traders either when 
they entered the Sasanian Empire or when they sold their goods within 
Persian territory. 141 

Nisibis was vehemently contested during the fourth century 142 but still 
retained its role as a trans-shipment centre after 363 when the city fell 
into Sasanian hands. 143 Ammianus Marcellinus' elaborate description of 
the exodus of its inhabitants and the take over by the Persians illustrates 
how much the loss of this city shocked contemporaries. 144 Not surprisingly, 
when relations once more deteriorated during the sixth century, the Romans 
built the city of Dara-Anastasiopolis facing Nisibis and transformed it into 
a massive bulwark during the reign of Justinian. This was meant to be the 
Western counterpart to Nisibis. 145 

137 Manandian 1965: 77; in general on trade related aspects in the diplomatic relations between West 
and East see Winter 1987: 46—74. 

138 Andreotti 1969: 215-57. 

139 Cf. DNP s.v. Zoll: 830 for further references; on late antique taxation in Syria and Mesopotamia 
see Pollard 2000: 213—18 and Jones 1964: 824-7. 

140 Blockley 1984: 33 emphasises the financial advantages for Rome, 'The result of this was that the 
Romans would garner all the income from taxes of the lucrative eastern trade. 1 

141 In Winter and Dignas 2001: 210 the authors emphasised the financial losses for the Sasanians but 
have changed their view since; on the Sasanian economy in general see Morony 2004: 166—94. 

142 Festus 27.2; on the confrontations during the reign of Sapur II see Maroth 1979: 239—43 ana 
Lightfoot 1988: 105-25. 

143 Amm. xxv.7.19— 14 (18); see also Chrysos 1993: 165—202. 

144 Amm. xxv.9.1-12; for context and interpretation see 18. 

145 For details, references and a photograph of the modern - still impressive - ruins of Dara see 
figs. 13-14. 

202 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

The foedus of 298 also forced Narse to acknowledge the Roman protec- 
torate of Iberia (17), an area south of the central Caucasus and north of 
Armenia through which the upper and middle Kyros was flowing. Diocle- 
tian intended to expand the Roman sphere of influence to the north-east 
in order to create new routes for the Eastern trade which would circum- 
vent Sasanian territory in the north. The emperor's ambition to regain 
power over Iberia was closely linked to the role of this area as a transit area. 
Repeatedly the Romans had become painfully aware that the most impor- 
tant overland trade routes in the East of the ancient world, by which the 
sought after luxury goods from the Far East reached the large Roman cen- 
tres along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, went through Sasanian 
territory. The Persian supremacy by sea, in particular in the Persian Gulf, 
which was the starting point for the lucrative trade with India, 146 must have 
further strengthened the key role the Sasanians played with regard to the 
Roman eastern trade. The Romans therefore tried to establish firm bases 
along the Black Sea and in the Caucasus in order to create new land routes 
for an extended eastern trade, primarily with China. 147 To some extent their 
attempts to maintain diplomatic relations with Armenia and the Caucasus 
had to do with the hope that the peoples in this region would help them 
to obtain important luxury goods, above all silk and silk products. The 
significance of the areas in the Caucasus and around the Caspian Sea with 
regard to trade has been suggested as a motive for the expansion of a Roman 
Eastern policy during the Parthian period 148 and has been acknowledged 
for some time as a cause for confrontations between Byzantium and the 
Sasanian Empire during the fifth and sixth centuries. 149 This significance 
very much also applies to the situation at the end of the third century. 

Until the treaty of 363 (18) when Sapur II (309-79) made the emperor 
Jovian (363—4) revise the central aspects of the foedus of 298 (17) the agree- 
ments of this treaty continued to be legally valid. Ammianus Marcellinus 
states, however, that during the reign of Constantius II an annual market 
existed in Batnai where Indian and goods from Seran were offered and 
the author also praises the magnificent goods of the city of Kallinikos. 150 

14 On the Sasanian contacts with India, specifically by sea via the Petsian Gulf see also Wiesehofer 
1998a: 19—20 and Daryaee 2003: 1—6. 

147 On possible ttade routes to China which went through the Caucasus and bypassed Sasanian territory 
in the north see Herrmann 1966: 18—19 an d 26-7; cf. also Thorley 1969: 215 and Wissemann 1984: 
166—73; on the Sasanian attempts to stop trade along the northern route of the Silk Road see Haussig 
1983: 161—82. 

148 Wissemann 1984: 166—73. 

149 Pigulevskaja 1969: 155-8; Harmatta 2000: 249-52. 

150 Amm. xiv.3.3 and xxm.3.7; cf. also Kirsten 1959: 558 and Synelli 1986: 89; on Batnai as a centre of 
trade see Kissel 1998: 171— 2 and De Ligt 1993: 74. 

28 Economy and trade 203 

The consequences of making Nisibis the only place in the border area for 
the exchange of goods were thus less dramatic for Roman merchants than 
they were for their Sasanian counterparts. The same impression is given 
by the anonymous author of the Expositio totius mundi et gentium when he 
names not only Nisibis but also Batnai and Kallinikos (far west of Nisibis) 
as important centres of trade. 151 

It would be helpful to know to what extent the political climate through- 
out the centuries altered the trade relations between Rome and the East. 
Until the end of the Parthian kingdom the 'international' trade along the 
Eastern frontier of the Roman Empire had flourished without any restric- 
tions. Economy and trade had never been an issue in Parthian-Roman 
peace treaties. 1 ' 2 For the period of Roman— Parthian relations we observe 
active trade between the two powers and Roman contacts with the ports 
of India from where Chinese silk was imported into the Roman Empire. 153 
When the Sasanian Empire was founded in the year 224 a new develop- 
ment began, which presented entirely different premises for the relations 
between East and West. Immediately after the fall of the Arsacids Ardasir 
I (224-40) 154 occupied Spasinu Charax on the Satt al-'Arab and thereby 
restricted Palmyrene activities in a provocative way, which in turn had a 
negative effect on Roman trade interests. 155 

During the following centuries the rivalry between both states did not allow 
for a free development of trade between Rome and the Sasanian Empire. 
An increasingly suspicious attitude towards the neighbouring state led to 
closed borders where a type of frontier police were to guarantee that trade 
regulations were adhered to. 156 

According to instructions from the reign of Theodosius I the comes 
commerciorum was the only person permitted to acquire and sell (raw) 
silk from the barbarians. 157 This official, who was also largely in charge 
of assessing import and export duties, 158 was responsible for ensuring that 

151 On the history and significance of Edessa in late antiquity see Kirsten 1963: 144—72; Segal 1970; 
Ross 2001. 

152 Ziegler 1964: 87-8. 

153 Raschke 1978: 641—3 and 815—47; Wissemann 1984: 166, however, points to possible difficulties for 
Rome resulting from the mediating role played by the Parthians. 

154 Cf. above, p. 19 with n. 8 and Drexhage 1988: 70-6 and 139—40. 
'» Wagner 1985: 12. 

156 Cod. Tbeod. vn.16.2 (410); cf. also Giiterbock 1906: 71-2 and Segal 1955: 127. 

157 Cod. lust, iv.40.2; see Stock 1978b: 602 n. 10. 

158 Cod. Tbeod. iv.13.8— 9 (381); all duties (import, export and transit) went to the comes sacrarum 
largitionum, who supervised the trade within the empire and in particular border traffic; cf. Cod. 
lust, iv.63.2 (374) and 6. 

204 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

official bans on the export of certain goods were respected, above all the 
export of arms, iron, gold, wine and oil. 159 He thus supervised the Roman 
foreign trade and acted according to Diocletian's goal of linking national 
security with a regulated trade. l6 ° 

The Codex Iustinianus tells us about a constitution de commerciis et mer- 
catoribus by the emperors Honorius and Theodosius II (408/9), which 
was addressed to the praefectus praetorio Orientis Anthemius 1 : and which 
sums up official guidelines for the trade between Byzantium and the 
Persian Empire - guidelines that remained valid until their relations ended 
altogether. 162 

Codex Iustinianus iv.63.4 

It is by no means permitted that merchants, neither subjects of our empire nor of 
the Persian king, hold markets 163 outside the places that were agreed on together 
with the mentioned nation at the time when the peace was concluded in order that 
they do not find out about the secrets of the foreign kingdom in an inappropriate 
way. 164 (1) Henceforth no subject of our empire shall dare travelling further than 
Nisibis, Kallinikos and Artaxata in order to acquire or sell goods, nor shall anybody 
expect to exchange goods with a Persian but in the named cities. Both sides who 
contract with each other shall know that goods sold or acquired outside these 
places will be confiscated by our most sacred government, that these goods and 
the price that was paid or exchanged shall be lost and that they themselves shall 
be exiled for life. (2) Regarding their appearance at transactions that took place 
outside the mentioned places judges are also punished with a payment of thirty 
pounds of gold, [and also those] via whose territory a Roman or Persian travelled 
to the forbidden places for the purpose of trade. (3) However, this does not apply 
to those who accompanied Persian ambassadors sent to us at any time and carried 
goods for the purpose of trade; out of humanity and respect for an embassy we 
do not deny these the right to engage in trade also outside the fixed places, unless 
they use the embassy as a pretext in order to spend more time in any province and 

159 Ibid, iv.41.1 (370—5); iv.41.2 (455—7); iv.63.2 (374); cf. also Dig. xxxix.4.11; Cod. Theod. vn.16.3 
(420); Expositio totius mundi et gentium 22 (p. 156 ed. Rouge); also Karayannopoulos 1958; 168 and 
De Laet 1949: 477-8. 

1 ° On the comites commerciorum, who existed only in the provinces that bordered foreign territory (cf. 
for the Eastern Roman Empire Not. Dign. Or. xm.6— 9), and their responsibilities; De Laet 1949: 
457—9; Pigulevskaja 1969: 83—4; on their changing responsibilities from the end of the fifth century 
onwards see Karayannopoulos 1958: 159—68, esp. 164—5. 

161 On the life and activities of Anthemius, who around the turn of the century, prior to his appointment 
as praefectus praetorio (404), was ambassador at the court of the Sasanian king and contributed 
significantly to the good relations between East and West during this period, see Clauss 1981: 147; 
PLRE 2; 93—5; Synelli 1986: 93-4 and 172. 
On this source see Antoniadis-Bibicou 1963: 115 and 194. 

163 The wording 'nundinas exercere is discussed in De Ligt 1993: 53—4. 

164 On the issue of espionage by merchants and diplomats see also 35. 

28 Economy and trade 205 

do not accompany the ambassador on his return to his own country. When these 
engage in trade they shall be rightly afflicted with the punishment resulting from 
this sanction, and also those who do business with them and those with whom 
they stayed. 

The constitution refers to a foedus concluded with the Sasanians in the 
past. This must be the treaty of 298 between Diocletian and Narse (17), 
and it looks as if the stipulations regarding trade were still valid in 408/9. l65 
According to the constitution of 408/9 the exchange of goods was limited 
to the cities of Nisibis, Kallinikos and the Armenian metropolis Artaxata 
(map 3). 1 Espionage by foreign merchants was much feared and punished 
harshly, with exile, the confiscation of the merchant's goods or his personal 
property. Already Ammianus Marcellinus states that Roman border traffic 
was strictly controlled in order to prevent Romans from escaping to the 
enemy's territory and thereby from passing on important information to 
the opponent. 167 On the basis of the geographical location of the three 
cities we can infer how the flow of goods was channelled. The trade beyond 
the Tigris was supposed to flow via Nisibis, the trade with and through 
Armenia 1 8 via Artaxata and the trade with the more southern regions 
along the Gulf, especially with the numerous Arab tribes in Syria, via 
Kallinikos. 16 ? 

The fact that the constitution and its sanctions address both Roman 
and Sasanian merchants is significant because it shows that Sasanian inter- 
ests are also represented. In 408—9 two of the three places designated for 
the exchange of goods, namely Nisibis and Artaxata, were situated within 
the Sasanian realm of power. We are thus dealing with an international 
settlement or rather its points of execution that needed the consent of 
the Sasanian ruler Yazdgard I (399-420). This explains why this imperial 
constitution was not included in the Codex Theodosianus of 438. 170 

From the perspective of the great powers, restricting trade to a few cen- 
tres was an important step towards securing the shared border. 171 In the 

,6i Winter 1987: 64-5. 

166 On the significance of Artaxata as an international trading centre see Manandian 1965: 80—1. 

167 Amm. xvni. 5.3. 

168 In general on Armenia's role for the trade in the eastern parts of the ancient world see Manandian 

169 Cf. on Kallinikos as a flourishing trading centre p. 202 with n. 150. 

170 Giiterbock 1906: 75; Bury 1958: 212 even talks about a treaty with the Sasanian Empire 'which 
secured peace on the Persian frontier'. 

171 Thus also Pollard 2000: 216 who points to the 'preference of centralization' as a typical phenomenon 
in late antiquity. 

2o6 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

year 422, very close in time to the foedus between Bahram V Gor and 
Theodosius II (19), an edict was issued according to which trade between 
the two empires was permitted only in places that had been designated 
in earlier constitutions. 172 Attempts to circumvent the official regulations 
of 408/9 may have triggered new legislation and a confirmation of their 
content. 173 This corresponds with the warning not to host foreign mer- 
chants without the knowledge and consent of the comes commerciorum, 
which was issued at the same time. 174 Finally, three articles of the elaborate 
treaty concluded between Xusro I Anosarvan and Justinian I in 562 (2.0) 
addressed decisions regarding economy and trade. These adhered to the 
general guidelines that had already been fixed in 298 and 408/9 and that 
remained valid until the end of the Byzantine— Sasanian relations in the 
early seventh century. The economic rivalry between Byzantium and Persia 
continued in spite of the peace. However, the increasing hostilities, in partic- 
ular the Sasanian offensives at the beginning of the seventh century (15), no 
longer allowed for a regulated and uninterrupted flow of trade between both 

The following conclusions may be drawn: from the end of the third 
century onwards economic aspects also guided the diplomatic interaction 
between the two empires. Attempts to deal with economic questions led 
to political contacts. 175 Trade related interests, above all the assessment of 
customs duties, gained more and more significance as they both intensi- 
fied contacts and increased rivalries. Given the increasing ideological and 
military tensions between the empires a free exchange of goods without 
state intervention and control ceased to exist. In contrast to their pre- 
decessors, the Sasanian kings did not accept any Roman superiority but 
pursued an active expansionist foreign policy; with the treaty of 298 (17) 
Diocletian reacted to this by introducing a policy that linked foreign trade 
with Rome's security. This policy became characteristic for the economic 
relations between (East-) Rome and Persia. 

Numerous constitutions and treaties confirm a consistent policy on 
both sides, always accompanied by Roman attempts to establish multi- 
ple alliances with the prospect of creating new trade routes by land and 
by sea that would avoid Sasanian territory 176 According to the Byzantine 
historian Menander Protector the start of diplomatic relations between 

172 Cod. lust, iv.63.6. praef; cf. also De Laet 1949: 458-9 and Karayannopoulos 1958: 167. 

173 Karayannopoulos 1958: 160— 1. I74 Cod. lust, iv.63.6, praef. 

175 On the shared economic interests of the great powers see also Frye 1972: 265—9. 

176 In this context cf. esp. Pigulevskaja 1969; also Eadie 1989: 113—20; Sidebotham 1989: 485—509 and 
1986a: 16—36 and 1986b. 

28 Economy and trade 207 

Byzantium and the Turks in the year 568 (14) was mainly motivated by the 
Roman interest in importing the precious silk from the Far East without any 
Sasanian involvement. 177 In this context, Procopius describes an attempt 
made by Justinian (527—65) in the year 552 to introduce the breeding of 
silkworms into the Byzantine Empire. 

Procopius, De Bello Gothico rv.1j.1-S 

(1) Some monks, who were visiting from India around this time 178 and who saw 
that the emperor Justinian was keen for the Romans not to have to buy silk from 
the Persians anymore, approached the emperor and promised that they would take 
care of the silk issue in a way that the Romans would no longer have to purchase it 
from their own enemies or any other people. (2) They claimed that they had spent 
some time in a country that was situated beyond most of the Indian settlements 
and that was called Serinda 179 and that they had found out exactly how it would 
be possible to produce silk in the Roman Empire. (3) When the emperor enquired 
persistently and tried to find out whether their story was true, the monks told him 
that a type of worm produced the silk and that nature was their teacher forcing 
them to work continuously. (4) That it was, however, impossible to bring the 
worms here alive but that their offspring were easily transported. They explained 
that the offspring of these worms were an innumerable number of eggs from each 
one; (5) that men buried these eggs long after they were produced in dung and 
by warming them for sufficient time they made the living animals. (6) After their 
speech the emperor promised to reward the men with large gifts and he persuaded 
them to put their words into practice. (7) Then they travelled once more to Serinda 
and brought the eggs to Byzantium, they managed to transform them into worms 
in the prescribed way and fed them on mulberry leaves; and it was to their credit 
that from then on silk was produced in the Roman Empire. (8) This is, then, how 
matters stood between the Romans and the Persians concerning the war and with 
regard to the silk. 

It is revealing that the monks from India promised Justinian they would 
solve the 'silk problem' in a way that Byzantium would never again have 
to purchase silk from the hostile Sasanians. Their own manufacture of silk 
would have entailed many advantages for the Romans because this would 
have lowered the drain of gold from the empire. Moreover, the state's pur- 
ple dye-works would profit tremendously from this development because 
an even and reliable provision of the raw material would henceforth be 

177 Menander frg. 18; cf. also the Byzantine contacts with Aksum and South Arabia (Proc. 1. 19. 1—2 and 
1. 20. 9-13); esp. 14. 

178 This is the year 551. 

179 Serinda is the land of the 'silk people' who are called Seme or Seres and who are the same as the 
Chinese; the Chinese had known silk since the third millennium bc but had kept its production a 
secret into the first millennium BC; it reached the West above all via the 'Silk Road'. 

2o8 6 Shared interests: Continuing conflicts 

guaranteed. 180 Accordingly, Justinian gave full support to the monks' plan to 
import the eggs of the silkworms. Although in the following period Byzan- 
tium gained some independence from the Persian intermediate trade 181 
this development was certainly not the end of the silk trade with the Far 

Although official regulations aimed at controlling the trade, there was — 
far away from interstate politics — room for free economic and personal 
exchange. This becomes clear from the writings of Procopius. In his descrip- 
tion of the Armenian border region Chorzane the Byzantine historian points 
out that the population of neither Sasanian nor Byzantine territory feared 
each other but rather intermarried, held markets together and shared agri- 
cultural products. 

Procopius, De aedificiis 111.3.P—12 

(9) On the way from Kitharizon 182 to Theodosio(u)polis and the other Armenia 183 
lies a region called Chorzane; it extends over a march of three days and it is not 
separated from Persia by a lake, a river or mountains, which would impede the 
crossing of a pass but the borders of the two merge. (10) Because of this the 
inhabitants, whether subjects of the Romans or of the Persians, do not fear one 
another or suspect mutual attacks but even engage in intermarriage, hold common 
markets for their daily needs and run their farms together, (n) Whenever the 
military commanders on each side lead an army against the other because their 
rulers instructed them to do so they find their neighbours unguarded. (12) The 
densely populated settlements are very close to each other and from old times there 
were no mounds anywhere. 

It becomes clear that the 'border' between Romans and Sasanians was not a 
heavily fortified 'limes', which prohibited any contacts. The Tigris and the 
Euphrates or the wide areas of the Syrian Desert formed natural borders that 
in the course of the centuries often marked the political borders between 
East and West but nevertheless allowed contacts between the people who 
lived in the border regions. A common language, customs and way of 
life furthered close relations among the population. In this context once 
more a link between trade and religion can be observed. In particular in 
times of peace the personal contacts between the numerous Christians and 
Jews who lived beyond the Euphrates and their fellow-believers in the West 

180 Veh 1978: 1091— 2. lSl Lopez 1945: 1—42 and Wada 1970. 

182 Kitharizon was situated in the legion of Asthianene, which was adjacent to the Sophanene (map 8) 

and hete was the seat of the second dux Armeniae; its ptecise location is uncertain; cf Howatd- 

Johnston 1989: 203—28. 
1 3 Fot the distinction between Armenia Minor and Armenia Maior see above, p. 176. 

28 Economy and trade 209 

stimulated the trade between East and West. 184 N. G. Garsoi'an summarises 
the situation well, 'For all the antagonism and suspicion present, channels 
of transmission were available most of the time, the frontier was in no sense 
hermetic and an official modus vivendi had been elaborated between the 
two rivals. ' l8s 

184 On the significance of the individual teligious communities with regard to trade see Ziegler 1964: 
89 and Lieu 1992: 97-106; on the Jews in particular see Neusner 1965—70. 

185 Garsoi'an 1983: 575. 


Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

From the third century onwards the religious policy of the great powers 
formed an important part of Roman-Persian relations. Evidently there was 
an interaction between religion and foreign relations, and developments in 
West and East not only were of the same character but also took place 
simultaneously This means that Rome and the Persian Empire dealt with 
religious matters in a comparable way and that the state of religious affairs 
in the East and in the West affected the neighbour's course of action. In 
particular after the dramatic religious changes during the reign of Con- 
stantine the Great the conflict between the now Christian Rome and the 
Zoroastrian Sasanian Empire escalated, also ideologically 1 

29: Religion and kingship in the Sasanian Empire 

First, let us examine the situation in the Sasanian Empire. 2 Here, the doc- 
trine of Zarathustra 3 became the privileged religion and developed into a 
supporting pillar of Sasanian kingship. Zoroastrianism was therefore the 
religion of the Sasanian rulers and furthered by them in an exceptional 
way. The religious development aimed at and entailed a concentration of 
royal power and a centralisation of rule. 4 This formed a stark contrast to 
the situation during the Parthian rule. During the Parthian period reli- 
gious matters in Iran were characterised by an extremely tolerant attitude 
of the state towards other religious movements to the effect that Eastern 

1 Modern scholarship distinguishes between Zarathustrianism and Zoroastrianism. The latter term 
designates the religion as it had developed in the later, especially the Sasanian, period, in contrast to 
the original religion established by Zarathustra. 

2 Cf. the relevant chapters in Duchesne-Guillemin 1964; also 1983: 874—97 ana Schippmann 1990: 
92-102 and Wiesehofer 2001: 199—221. 

3 On Zarathustra and his doctrine see Boyce 1984a and 1982; de Jong 1997; Stausberg 2002 (on the 
Sasanian period 205—62); on the controversial dating of Zarafhustra's life see Shahbazi 2002b: 7—45 
(between the end of the 2nd millennium bc and the 7th/6th century bc). 

4 On Zoroastrianism under the Sasanians see Duchesne-Guillemin 1983; further references in 
Wiesehofer 2001: 288—9. 

2$ The Sasanian Empire 211 

and Hellenistic cults mixed profoundly. 5 Just as in other regards, after the 
change of rule in 224 we observe a politically motivated return to old 
Persian traditions. The beginning of Sasanian rule therefore was an impor- 
tant benchmark in the religious history of Iran. All Sasanian kings explicitly 
declared their faith in Ahura Mazda. 6 There is no doubt that the 'Iranisa- 
tion' observed with regard to politics and society also applied to religious 
affairs. The following two passages give insight into the relation between 
the Sasanian state and the Zoroastrian 'state cult'. 7 

Masudi, Murug 1 § $86 

My son, religion and kingship are brothers who cannot do without each other, 
for religion is the foundation of kingship and kingship is religion's protector. And 
that which does not have a foundation collapses and that which does not have a 
protector perishes. 

So called 'Will of Ardaslr I', ed. Grignaschi 4p g 

Know that kingship and religion are twin brothers each one of which cannot do 
without its partner. For religion is the foundation of kingship, and kingship is 
the protector of religion. Kingship cannot do without its foundation, and religion 
cannot do without its protector, for that which has no protector perishes and that 
which has no foundation collapses. 

The author of the first Arabic text, Masudi, lived in the tenth century. He 
tells us about Ardaslr I (224—70) advising his son and successor Sapur I (240— 
72) to make religion the foundation of his monarchical rule. Accordingly, 
he should show himself as the protector of religion. 9 Around the same time 
the author Ibn Miskawayh transmits the so-called 'will' of the founder of 
the Sasanian Empire, Ardaslr I, which is a late Sasanian fabrication. 10 In 
this passage, too, the close link between kingship and religion is expressed, 
if not without alluding to the fact that the 'twins' are actually rivals. 11 In the 
eyes of both authors religion as the foundation of the empire has priority 
over kingship, which merely functions as the 'guardian' of religion. 

5 Boyce 1987: 540—1 and Wiesehofer 2001: 149. 

6 On this supreme deity, the 'wise, omniscient lord', who represented the light and the truth, see 
Boyce 1985: 684—7. 

7 Gignoux 1984a: 72—80. 

8 The same text with only minor deviations can be found in Caetani 1909: 102. 

y This is also expressed in the so called 'letter of Tansar', 'Church and state stem from the same 
body and are inseparably linked' (tr. Boyce 33—4); see also Wiesehofer 2001: 170. 211; the 'letter of 
Tansar - we have a neo-Persian translation of an Arabic translation going back to a source from the 
late Sasanian period — claims to be a letter written by Ardaslr's 'religious advisor' Tansar (Toser), 
who is known through the Zoroastrian tradition. 
10 Grignaschi 1966: 70. " On the metaphor see Shaked 1990: 262—74. 

212 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

Testimonies such as these convey the impression that already during 
the third century a form of 'state religion' existed in the Sasanian Empire, 
based on the excellent relations between the Zoroastrian priesthood and 
the Sasanian rulers. 12 Apparently king and state owed their power and 
legitimacy to the religion, just as vice versa, religion and 'church' needed the 
king as their protector and guarantor. The idea, however, that from the third 
century onwards a Zoroastrian 'state church' was firmly established in the 
Sasanian Empire raises doubts; although they go back to Sasanian traditions, 
the relevant surviving passages within the Arabic— Persian historiography 
were obviously composed not before the late or post-Sasanian period. 13 Ph. 
Gignoux summarises correctly: '(I)t appears then that the sacred alliance 
between kingship and religion is but a literary theme which developed 
mainly after the Sasanian period and . . . under Islamic influence which 
attempted, sometimes successfully, the symbiosis of these two powers.' 14 

With regard to the third century the idea of a Zoroastrian 'state religion' 
is thus as problematic as the label 'church' (in the sense of an organised and 
hierarchically structured institution), in particular as the term originally 
designated a specific historical phenomenon solely referring to Christian- 
ity 15 Nevertheless, the hierarchical structures within the Zoroastrian com- 
munity of the Magians and within the Christian Church are comparable. 
In both, tiered religious honours and titles with fixed responsibilities had 
emerged. 1 This 'system' was characterised by a strict separation of clerics 
and lay people, by a strictly regulated promotion to certain offices and 
a decreasing level of democratic elements, which had been unknown to 
early Christianity. The responsibilities and power of the Zoroastrian priest 
Karter are similar to those of a bishop in the Christian Church. In the 
West as well as the East there was a trend towards a concentration of power 
and towards monarchical power. While handing all spiritual and admin- 
istrative responsibilities to the bishops, this development consistently and 
increasingly excluded the people and the aristocratic powers of the clergy. 17 

Whereas during the third century the strong link between kingship and 
religion in the East represented a model to the West, during the fourth 
and fifth centuries the emergence of an ecclesiastical hierarchy in the West 
affected the development of a 'religious administration' in the East. Chris- 
tianity and Zoroastrianism therefore differed fundamentally from all other 
religions, cults and philosophical schools, which lacked a corresponding 
organisation. Moreover, they alone consistently rejected all other religious 

See also Bier 1993: 172—94, esp. 181— 4. I3 Wiesehofer 1993: 362—82, esp. 367- 

Gignoux 1984a: 80. I5 Wiesehofer 1993: 362-82. 

See Paul 1983: 107. I7 Cf. ibid. 109. 

jo Sasanian kings and Zoroastrianism 213 

movements, which paved the way to the enormous success of these two 
world religions in the Roman and Sasanian Empire respectively. 

30: The Sasanian kings as patrons of Zoroastrianism 

Numerous testimonies of the third century already depict the early Sasanian 
kings as 'patrons' of Zoroastrianism. 18 During the reign of Bahram II (276— 
93) the most powerful priest within this religion was Karter. In several 
inscriptions (at Sar Mashad, Naqs-i Rustam and Naqs-i Rajab), which 
were composed in the Middle Persian script and show an almost identical 
wording, Karter describes his career under the early Sasanian rulers, namely 
under Sapur I (240-72) and his successors. 19 Apart from the great Sapur 
Inscription (SKZ), these inscriptions are our most important sources for 
the study of Zoroastrianism in the Sasanian Empire of the third century. 20 

Karter 's inscriptions at Sar-Mashad, at Naqs-i Rustam, on the Kdba-i Zardust and 
at Naqs-i Rajab, pp. 40S-10 (ed. Back) 

And from the beginning, I, Karter, saw great pains and labour for gods and rulers 
and for the sake of my own soul, and I set up many fire (sanctuaries) and Magians 
in Eransahr . . . flourishing; and also in Aneransahr fire (sanctuaries) and Magians, 
present in the territory of the non- Aryans where the horses and people of the King 
of Kings went - the city of Antioch and the territory of Syria and the provincial 
territory above Syria ... [a list of the territories conquered by Sapur follows] - 
also there, commanded by the King of Kings, I established the Magians and fire 
(sanctuaries) that existed in those provinces. 

According to Karter, during his campaigns against Rome he established fire 
sanctuaries in order to introduce the Zoroastrian fire cult in areas outside 
Iran (= Aneran). The priest had accompanied the Sasanian king on his 
campaigns in the West. If we can trust his words, the king instructed him 
to reorganise the Zoroastrian cult in the conquered western territories. 
Hereby Sapur I probably intended to tie these areas closer to the Sasanian 
Empire and to include them in his sphere of interest. However, there is no 
proof that the king aimed at an 'Iranisation' of the provinces in Asia Minor 
that had formerly been part of the Achaemenid Empire. 21 

The fire motif possessed great significance in the Zoroastrian religion. It 
symbolised purity and virtue and for the Zoroastrians was the 'reflection of 
truth. The rituals employed in the worship of the fire were mainly carried 
out in fire sanctuaries. 22 Numerous testimonies confirm the close relation 

18 Mosig-Walburg 1982. Iy For further references cf. Huyse 1998: 109—20. 

zo Back 1978: 384-489; MacKenzie 1989: 35-72 and Gignoux 1991b. 

21 Thus Widengren 1961: 11. 

22 Erdmann 1941 and Schippmann 1971; Kaim 2004: 323—37. 

214 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

between the Sasanian king and the 'fire'. In the Sapur inscription at Naqs-i 
Rustam the king thanks the gods for supporting his campaigns by referring 
to the dedication of fires marking his victories. 

The Sapur Inscription on the Kdba-i Zardust at Naqs-i Rustam (SKZ) § $i 
The Parthian text 

Just as we take great care now for the affairs and worship of the gods and are the 
'dastgerd' 13 of the gods and with the help of the gods sought and took possession 
of all these countries, and in addition became famous and brave, (in this way) the 
one, who will come after us and will be successful, shall take great care for the 
affairs and worship of the gods, so that the gods will help him and make him their 
own 'dastgerd'. 

Sapur I points to his numerous fire dedications, to his support of the fire 
cult and the priesthood, and he thereby emphasises his close relationship 
with the gods. Just like the Zoroastrian priest Karter, the Sasanian king 
also explicitly states that he owed his military success in the West to the 
goodwill of the gods. Both texts illustrate a close link between politics 
and religion at this point. By furthering Zoroastrianism the Persian ruler 
attempts to unite his 'nation' — possibly with an eye to the battle against 
the opponent in the West. 24 In the end, strengthening and spreading the 
Zoroastrian religion also served to legitimate and enhance royal power. 
These and further activities of Sapur I were therefore part of a 'religious 
policy. At the end of the inscription the king encourages his successor 
to follow his zeal with regard to religion. All rulers should appease the 
gods, become the proteges of the gods, look after religious matters and, 
just like Sapur I himself, endorse the Zoroastrian religion. In accord with 
the support received by Zoroastrianism in general, over the course of time 
Zoroastrian priests gained considerable power. The fact that Zoroastrianism 
became the official religion of the empire facilitated the emergence of a fixed 
hierarchy and differentiation within the priestly cast. The religious titles 
attested by Karter's inscriptions reveal an increasing significance of their 
holders during the third century 25 Comparable to the realm of politics, 
where a few noble families occupied the high civil and military ranks, the 
Zoroastrian religious community was based on a hereditary priesthood 
that was kept within one family. However, a Zoroastrian 'state church and 
a corresponding 'religious administration' did not exist before the fourth 
or — more developed - fifth century 26 This development was facilitated by 

23 The term 'dastgerd' refers to the close relationship between the ruler and the gods; cf. Huyse 1999: 
180— 1 (vol. 11); Henning 1958: 96 translates the term as 'Schutzling 1 (= protege); cf. also Back 1978: 
504 n. 199. 

24 Decret 1979; 130— 1. 25 Grenet 1990: 87— 94. z6 Gignoux 1983: 253— 66. 

}0 Sasanian kings and Zoroastrianism 215 

the fact that Sasanian kingship was particularly weak in this period; from 
the fifth century at the latest, Zoroastrianism was firmly established also on 
an institutional level. 

As the example of Karter has shown, already during the third century a 
Zoroastrian priest could achieve great power and influence. 27 During the 
reigns of Bahram I (273—6) and Bahram II (276—93) he seems to have been at 
the peak of his power. His epigraphical 'biography' at Naqs-i Rustam, which 
has a strong propagandistic character comparable to the Sapur Inscription 
(SKZ), impressively illustrates his rise in power. 28 

Karter's inscriptions at Sar-Mashad, at Naqs-i Rustam, on the Kdba-i Zardust and 
at Naqs-i Rajab, pp. 414-16 (ed. Back) 

And after . . . Bahram (II) . . . had become ruler, instigated by his love for Ohrmezd 
and the gods and for the sake of my own soul, he elevated my rank and honour in 
the empire, and he gave me the rank and honour of the magnates, and at his court 
and in every province, in every place, in the entire empire, in the worship of the 
gods he made me even more powerful and independent 29 than I had been before. 

Already while serving Sapur I Karter proudly claimed to have established 
many fire sanctuaries in 'Eran' and Aneran. However, during the reign of the 
second Sasanian king religious minorities were not yet persecuted. Whereas 
the reign of Sapur I was characterised by caution — religious minorities 
were tolerated, the rivalling Manichaeism was attractive for many 30 — the 
situation of the non-Zoroastrian religions deteriorated under the successors 
of Sapur I. Karter describes the attempt to destroy all other religions and 
to spread Zoroastrianism as the only legal religion. 

Karter's inscriptions at Sar-Mashad, at Naqs-i Rustam, on the Kdba-i Zardust and at 
Naqs-i Rajab, pp. 419-28 (ed. Back) 

And the false doctrines 31 of the Ahreman (Angra Mainyu) and of the dews 
(= demons) 32 disappeared from the empire and were expelled. 33 And the Jews, 
Buddhists, Brahmans (= Hindi), Nazarenes, Christians, Baptists and Manichaeans 
were broken up, and their idols were destroyed and the dwellings of the dews were 
annihilated and turned into places and seats of the gods. 

27 Cf. the references above, p. 27 n. 48; also Sprengling 1953. z8 See Gignoux 1991b. 

29 In KSM the order of the two comparatives is exchanged. 

30 Brown 1969: 92—103; Sundermann 1986: 40—92 and 239—317; Hutter 1988; Lieu 1992; id. 1994; on the 
special relations between Mani and the Sasanian ruler Sapur and the rivalry with Karter's Zoroastrian 
priesthood see Hinz 1971: 485-99; Russel 1990; 180-93; a l so Hutter 1992: 152-69. 

31 This means 'dogma', in particular of the non-Mazda-followers, thus 'false doctrine'. 

32 Back 1978: 508 n. 256 talks about 'demons, false gods'. 

33 Differently Back 1978; 414; cf. also MacKenzie 1982: 285. 

2i6 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

Apart from Zoroastrianism there were many groups of different faiths in the 
Sasanian Empire, namely Jews, Buddhists, Hindi, Mandaeans, Christians 
and Manichaeans. To some extent these were severely persecuted by the 
Magians. Karter intended to restore the 'right order', which translated into 
sanctions against those who did not follow 'orthodox Zoroastrianism'. In 
particular the Christians, Jews and Manichaeans, who adhered to the so- 
called 'supranational' religions, faced coercive measures by the Zoroastrian 
priesthood. 34 From Karter's perspective and that of the Magians it was above 
all Manichaeism which represented a serious rival to their own religion 
because during the third century it enjoyed great success also outside Iran. 
In 277 the founder of this religion, Mani, was captured. R. Ghirshman refers 
to reasons for the persecution of the followers of non-Zoroastrian religions 
that we have touched on already, 'The problem of an imperial religion must 
have arisen ... at a time when the young Empire was winning success in 
foreign policy and needed to mobilize all its national forces for the struggle 
with Rome.' 35 

But already Narse (293—302) turned his back on the religious policy of 
his predecessors. The fact that the persecution of religious minorities ceased 
can be attributed partly to an attempt to limit the increasing power of the 
Zoroastrian priestly caste but must primarily be seen in the context of the 
renewed conflict with Rome (6). In the West, we observe a simultaneous 
persecution of Manichaeans, followers of a faith that was certainly associated 
with the Persian opponent (31). 

31: From Diocletian to Constantine - Religious change in the West 
and the consequences for Roman-Sasanian relations 

Diocletian's Edict against the Manichaeans, 297 (or^02 ,6 J: Collatio legum 
Mosaicarum et Romanarum xv.3.1-8 

The emperors Diocletian and Maximianus, Augusti, and Constantius and Max- 
imianus, 37 the finest Caesars, send greetings to the proconsul of Africa, Julianus. 
A very leisurely life tends to encourage people in a community to transgress the 
limits of human nature and incites them to introduce some kind of empty and 
despicable superstitious doctrine, so that by making their own erroneous judge- 
ment they seem to sway also many others, my dearest Julianus. (2) But the immortal 
gods in their providence intended to stipulate that what is good and right should 

34 Wiesehofer 1993: 362—82; on the persecutions under Bahram II see Schwaigert 1989: 42-4. 

35 Ghirshman 1954: 315. 36 For a date 302 see Barnes 1982: 169. 

37 This is Galerius (6), whose full name was Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus; Diocletian made 
him 'Caesar' on 21 May (?) 293. 

$i From Diocletian to Constantine 217 

be acknowledged and applied by the counsel and decisions of many virtuous, emi- 
nent and very wise men 38 (it is against the right order to step against and oppose 
this), and that the ancient religion may not be questioned by a new one. For it is 
the greatest crime to open to debate what was once decided on and defined by the 
forefathers and what develops steadily and has its fixed place. 39 (3) We are therefore 
intent on punishing the stubborn and deprived minds of the most useless people: 
for these are people who try to replace the old religions with new and unheard-of 
sects in order to - through their own false judgement - cast out what we were once 
given by divine providence. 40 (4) The Manichaeans, about whom you reported to 
Our Serenity with much insight, as we have heard, have come into existence and 
entered our realm only recently from our enemy, the Persian people, just like new 
and unexpected portents, and they commit many crimes here because they disturb 
quiet peoples and certainly also inflict harm on civilised states; and we have to be 
afraid that, as tends to happen, by scandalous customs and the bad laws of the 
Persians over the course of time they will try to infect people of a more innocent 
nature, modest and quiet Romans and our whole empire with their malign poison. 
(5) And as everything you set out so well in your report about their religion by 
our statutes is obviously a crime and crazy lies, we have decided to punish these 
with deserved and appropriate punishments. (6) For we give order to punish the 
authors and leaders severely and to burn them in the flames together with their 
abominable writings; we give instruction that the followers who remain stubborn 
receive capital punishment and we decide that their property will be confiscated 
by the imperial treasury. (7) If officials or people of considerable rank or influence 
have joined this unheard-of, despicable and utterly infamous sect or the doctrine 
of the Persians you will take care that their property will be taken over by our 
imperial treasury and that they themselves will be handed over to the mines at 
Phaeno or Proconnesus. 41 (8) In order, therefore, that this superfluous pestilence 
can be removed from our most blessed times, may Your Devotion hurry in carrying 
out our orders and decisions. Given in Alexandria on the day before the calends 
ofApril. 42 

The so-called 'Edict against the Manichaeans' was issued by the emperor 
Diocletian either in the year 297, during the Persian War and before the 
peace of 298 (17) was concluded, or after this event in 302. 43 It has been 
transmitted in the Collatio legum Mosaicarum et Romanarum, a compilation 

38 As part of their invectives against Christianity, Celsus (e.g. Orig. Centr. Cels. praef. 5) and Porphyry 
(e.g. frg. 1) also referred to famous and learned men who had postulated the worship of the traditional 

39 This reminds one of the famous speech of Maecenas by Cassius Dio (Lxx.36.1— 2), in which the 
ancient author postulates not to tolerate those who failed to worship the proper gods. 

40 These words reflect an attitude and religious policy among Diocletian and his colleagues that formed 
the background for the renewed persecutions of the Christians under the tetrarchs. 

41 The island of Proconnesus, situated in the western part of the Sea of Marmara, was famous for its 
marble quarries; in late antiquity the island's city of the same name was a bishop's see and a place of 

42 This is 31 March. 43 Seston 1940: 345—54 (= Widengren 1977: 374—84). 

2i8 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

of selected Roman legal norms and those of the Old Testament, which was 
composed towards the end of the fourth century probably by a Christian 
loyal to Rome. 44 The edict turns against a religion originating from an 
empire that had been utterly hostile to Rome for a long time. The connec- 
tion is evident — the laws and customs of the Persians are condemned and 
criticised en bloc. 

Although the outbreak of a new Roman— Sasanian war under Narse (6) 
may have triggered the activities agains the Manichaeans, 45 one cannot fail 
to notice that the edict against the Manichaeans was part of a compre- 
hensive attempt for religious restoration, which on the one hand aimed 
at a restoration of the traditional cults, on the other hand postulated an 
immediate link between the welfare of the state and the benevolence of 
the gods. 46 The claim that the old religious order was inviolable served to 
legitimise the official persecutions of the Manichaeans as well as to justify 
the return to the religion of the ancestors. 

The revival of the Roman 'national' cults formed an important part of 
Diocletian's reforms, which sought to overcome the 'crisis' of the Roman 
Empire. In order to stabilise the basis of Roman monarchical power these 
reforms included not only a decentralisation of rule — the tetrarchy was 
established 47 — but also the construction of a firm bond between the ruler 
and the Roman gods, above all the supreme god Jupiter. This bond was 
taken as serious enough to fight religions not willing to serve and sacri- 
fice to the emperor, who was the first representative of Jupiter on earth. 
Diocletian's goals were similar to those of Constantine later: linking 
emperor and supreme god, legitimising his rule as an expression of god's 
will and establishing a state religion as the basis of and unifying factor 
within the state. 48 

After Constantine, 49 the fact that religious questions affected foreign 
relations put the conflicts between the now Christian Rome and Zoroastrian 
Persia on a new level. 50 Constantine's promotion of Christianity to the 
extent that it became the official religion in the Roman Empire affected the 
Persian attitude towards both the Christians and Rome.' 1 The consequences 

44 For a partial German translation see Guyot and Klein 1994: 186-9 ana 34^—9; cf. Schwarte 1994: 
203-40 and Kolb 1995: 27-31. 

45 Wiesehofer 1993: 372—3. 

46 On the goals of Diocletian's religious policy see Kolb 1988: 17—44; J 995 : 2 7 — 3 1 an d Brandt 1998: 25—6 
and 92-101 with further references. 

47 Kolb 1987a and Brandt 1998: 20—1 and 57—101. 4S Paul 1983: 198. 
49 Girardet 1998: 9-122. 5 ° Wiesehofer 1993: 376— 9. 

51 On the history of Christianity in the Sasanian Empire see Asmussen 1983: 924-48; Atiya 1991: 252—6; 
Schwaigert 1989; I— 11. 

$i From Diocletian to Constantine 219 

for the Christians in the Sasanian Empire were severe as they were declared 
enemies of the state, Roman auxiliary troops, and soon after were officially 
persecuted — for political rather than religious reasons. 52 

In turn, the attitude of the Roman emperors towards the Persian 
Christians was also influenced by the religious policy of Constantine the 
Great (306—37). In his Life of Constantine, the Greek Church father Euse- 
bius of Caesarea (Palestine), who was very close to the emperor, 53 quotes a 
letter which Constantine wrote to the Sasanian king Sapur II (309—79) on 
behalf of the Christians in the Persian Empire. 54 

Eusebius, Vita Constantini iv.8 and iv.13 

(8) When the Persian king also deemed it worthy to win Constantine's friendship 
through an embassy and sent gifts indicating his desire for friendship and peace, the 
emperor, too, wanted to form an alliance with him; he surpassed the king, who had 
obliged him with his honours first, in an exceptional way with his counter gifts. 55 
When he found out that the churches of God were numerous among the Persians 
and that very many communities had joined the herds of Christ, he rejoiced and 
displayed - as if the common protector of everything - also there his solicitude 
for all. He will now express this in his own words which he used in a letter to the 
Persian king, recommending them with utmost diligence and zeal to his care. This 
letter, which was written by the emperor himself, 56 is circulated among us in Latin 
but translated into Greek it should be more accessible to the readers. 57 It reads as 
follows . . . 

(13) 'You can imagine with what joy I heard that also many fine areas of Persia 
are adorned with this group of people, I mean the Christians (for it is on their 
behalf that I am speaking), just as I desire. May many blessings be granted to you, 
and in equal amounts blessings to them, as they also belong to you; in this way the 
almighty Lord will be a father to you, merciful and benevolent. I now commend 
these to you, because you are so powerful, I place them in your care, because your 
piety is as eminent. Love them according to your customary humanity; for by this 
expression of your faith you will procure an immeasurable gratification for yourself 
and for us.' 

52 Brentjes 1978: 245; on the ambivalent situation of the Chtistians see Blum 1980: 11-32 and Block 
1982: 1-9 (= 1984: 1-19). 

53 See Batnes 1981 and Winkelmann 1991. 

54 On this lettet see Dorries 1954: 125-7; Vivian 1987 and Giratdet 1998: 75-6. 

55 The embassy referred to by Eusebius dates to the year 324, that is after Constantine had defeated 
Licinius and become the sole ruler of the empire; it would appear that soon after (around 325) 
Constantine approached Sapur II; on the dating of the letter (324, 325 or 327) see DeDecker 1979: 
100; Barnes 1985: 131; Vivian 1987: 87—129. 

56 For Warmington 1986: 94 this letter is the only 'surviving verbatim example of an imperial diplomatic 
document from a Roman emperor 1 ; in contrast Vivian 1987: 70—7, who questions the authenticity 
of the letter as being a document composed by Constantine himself. 

57 Greek was the preferred language in the Eastern Roman Empire, also with regard to foreign relations; 
cf Balsdon 1979: 135. 

220 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

Constantine urges Sapur to look after the Christians and to become their 
protector. It is not certain whether the letter — as transmitted by Eusebius — 
is historical or not. The content, however, is characteristic for Constantine's 
view of history and of himself as a Christian emperor. Clearly, Eusebius 
wants to depict Constantine's concern for Christianity as a whole. Such 
ambitions, however, which included also the Christians in the Sasanian 
Empire, were to find Sapur's disapproval and to evoke opposition. 

The Persian War (7) that broke out during the reign of Constantius II 
(337—61) was accompanied by continuing systematic persecutions of the 
Christians in Persia. When in 338 after a long unsuccessful siege of Nisibis 
Sapur II had to retreat, persecutions of the Christians began soon after and 
lasted for forty years. 58 Numerous acts of martyrs from the period after the 
thirty-first year of the reign of Sapur II (= 340/41) have been preserved. 59 
The Bishop Maruta of Maiperkat was probably the editor of a collection 
of Syrian martyr texts. ° At the beginning of the fifth century he was a 
Byzantine ambassador at the Persian court. In the year 410 he presided 
over the Synod of Seleucia, which reorganised the Christians in Persia; in 
the aftermath many relics from the persecutions of Sapur IPs reign were 
taken to Seleucia/ 1 The acts of the martyrs confirm that after the death 
of Constantine the Great (337), Sapur II began to put pressure on the 
Christians and to destroy the churches within his realm of power. 2 The 
following martyrology of Simon, the metropolites of Seleucia-Ktesiphon, 
deserves special attention. 

Martyrologium of Mar Simon, Acta martyrum et sanctorum, 
ed. P. Bedjan 11 135—6 

Let us begin, then, with the history of the persecution and killing of those holy 
martyrs whose names we have recorded above. In the year 655 of the reign of 
Alexander, which is the year 296 after the crucifixion of our Lord, that is the 
year 117 of the reign of the Persians, which is the year 31 of Sapur the king, son of 
Hormizd (= ad 340/41), Sapur found an opportunity, after the blessed Constantine 
emperor of the Romans died, to pick a quarrel with his sons, because they were 
young, and [so] he was continually going up to raid the land of the Romans. 63 And 
for this reason he was especially stirring up hatred against the servants of God who 
were in the territory under his dominion, and he was longing and scheming to find 
a pretext for the persecution of the faithful. And he contrived a stratagem to crush 

58 On Sapur's persecutions of the Christians see Schwaigert 1989: 103—75; a ^ s0 ^ st 1 99^ : 17— 4 2 - 

59 Devos 1966: 213—42; Wiessner 1967 and Vivian 1987: 93—103. 

60 Braun 1915: xii-xm. 6l On the synod of 410 see Muller 1969: 227—45. 
2 See Braun 1915: 6. 

63 On the Roman— Sasanian confrontations during the reign of Constantius II see 7. 

52 Persian Christians and Yazdgard I 221 

with a double levy all the Christians who were in the dominion of the Persians. 
And he wrote an edict from Beth Huzaye to the governors of Beth Aramaye, 64 as 
follows: 'Immediately you see this our, the gods', commandment in this text of the 
prescript which we have issued, arrest Simon the chief of the Nazarenes, and do 
not release him until he has put his seal to a document and agreed upon his life 
that he will collect and hand over a double poll-tax and a two-fold levy from the 
whole people of the Nazraye which is in our, the gods', land and lives under our 
rule. Because we, the gods, have the hardships of war, but they have delights and 
luxuries, and although they live in our land, they share the doctrine of Caesar our 
enemy. These things have been written by Sapur the king from Beth Huzaye to the 
governors of Beth Aramaye.' And when the king's edict reached them they arrested 
the blessed Simon Bar Sabba e, and these words that had been written by the king 
they read out before him, and they demanded that he carry out these things that 
had been written. 

The passage illustrates that from Sapur I Is perspective the Christians were 
a 'Roman advance guard'. 5 Apparently after he had suffered setbacks in 
the fight against Rome the king had intended to impose higher taxes on the 
Christians in order to finance the continuing war with the Romans. Here 
as elsewhere the source emphasises the close bond between the Christians 
in the Sasanian Empire and their 'fellow believer', the Roman emperor 
and enemy of the Persian king. From an Eastern perspective this situation 
entailed the risk of espionage and of transmission of secret information. 66 
When Simon refused to comply with the exertion of higher taxes and when 
the Sasanian king feared a Christian revolt against his rule he initiated 
systematic persecutions of the Christians in the entire Sasanian Empire. 7 

32: The situation of the Persian Christians during the reign of 
Yazdgard I (399-420) 

Socrates vu.8.1-20 

(1) Around this time Christianity also spread in Persia for the following reasons. 

(2) Between the Romans and Persians frequent embassies constantly take place; 
varied, however, are the reasons why they constantly send embassies back and 
forth (3) This necessity then also at the time entailed that Maruta, the bishop of 
Mesopotamia, whom I mentioned briefly earlier, was sent to the Persian king by 

4 Bet Huzaye and Bet Aramaye are geographical names referring to the areas Huzistan and 

65 Wiesehofer 2001: 202; cf. also 1993: 378. 

66 See Shahbazi 1990: 589 who states, 'In Iran devotion to the Christian faith thus appeared as allegiance 
to a hostile political power and Sapiir II regarded such developments as threats to the security of his 
empire. 1 

67 Asmussen 1983: 940. 

222 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

the Roman emperor. (4) The Persian king found the man very pious and treated 
him with honour, just as it befitted a man loved by god. (5) This irritated the 
Magians who had much power over the Persian king; for they feared that he might 
persuade the king to become a Christian. 68 (6) For with his prayers Maruta cured 
his chronic headache, which the Magians had not been able to treat successfully. 
(7) The Magians therefore devised a trick; as the Persians worship the fire but the 
king was used to worshipping the eternal fire in a particular house, 69 they hid a 
man under the floor at the time when the king used to pray and instructed him to 
utter that the king had to be expelled because he had committed an impious deed 
because he thought a Christian priest could be god beloved'. (8) When Yazdgard 
(I) (this was the name of the Persian king) heard this, he wanted to send him 
away although he much respected him, (9) Maruta however, who was indeed a 
god-beloved man, focused on his prayers, through which he found out about the 
deceit devised by the Magians. (10) He said to the king, 'Don't be deceived, king. 
But when you go in and hear the voice you will dig up and find the deceit; for it is 
not the fire that is speaking but a human device causes this.' (11) The Persian king 
followed Maruta's instructions and went back into the house where the eternal 
fire was. (12) When he heard the same voice again he gave the order to dig up the 
ground; and the one who had produced the supposedly divine voice was caught. 
(13) The king was extremely angry and made the Magians pay for their deed; then 
he promised Maruta that he could build churches where he wanted; this is why 
Christianity spread among the Persians. (14) At that time Maruta left Persia and 
returned to Constantinople; but soon after he was sent back again in the context of 
an embassy. (15) Again the Magians thought of tricks in order that the king would 
not receive the man; they produced some bad odour wherever the king tended to 
appear. They slandered the followers of Christianity by saying that they caused this. 
(16) As already before the king had been suspicious of the Magians, he was very 
keen to find the culprits and again the ones who had caused the bad odour were 
found among them. (17) This is why again many of them were punished; the king, 
however, held Maruta in even higher esteem. (18) And he loved the Romans and 
welcomed their friendship; and he nearly converted to Christianity after Maruta 
had passed a further test, together with Ablaas, the bishop of Persia. (19) For by 
spending their time with fasting and praying, these two drove out a demon that 
was torturing the king's son. (20) But Yazdgard died before he fully converted to 
the Christian faith; the throne fell to his son Bahrain (V), during whose reign the 
peace between Romans and Persians was broken, as I shall report a little later. 

The account of the ecclesiastical historian Socrates (c. 380—440) reveals 
how important the reign of Yazdgard I (399—420) was for the evolution of 

68 At this point and later on in the text (cf. esp. 18—20) Socrates tries to point out the superiority of the 
Christian faith; it would have been impossible for a Sasanian king to convert to Christianity as the 
Sasanian ruler was a 'Zoroastrian ruler' qua office. 
9 In the Sasanian period there were various types of fires, also one that symbolised the royal rule; 
on the terms used for individual fires and a possible hierarchy among them see the references in 
Schippmann 1990: 102; on the 'fire of the king' see Wiesehofer 2001: 166—7. 

52 Persian Christians and Yazdgard I 223 

Christianity beyond the borders of the Byzantine Empire. Socrates Scholas- 
ticus continued the Church History of Eusebius to the year 439; his work 
includes numerous documents, resolutions of Councils, imperial letters as 
well as those of bishops and is therefore a reliable source full of important 
information. 70 In particular, the author emphasises the crucial role of the 
bishop Maruta, who in his role as Roman ambassador contributed much 
to the good relations between Arcadius and Yazdgard I (9). 71 

According to Socrates Yazdgard I gave him permission to build churches 
wherever he wanted. Maruta managed to restore an organised Christian 
community which had been destroyed by the persecutions of Sapur II. 72 His 
influence was crucial when as a result of the Synod of Seleucia-Ktesiphon 
in the year 410, at which Church officials from the Byzantine Empire also 
participated, the Persian Church received a new hierarchical organisation 
and its own ecclesiastical law. 73 This laid the foundations for a separation 
of the Persian Church from the Christian Church elsewhere. After another 
Council on Sasanian territory took place in 424, the Persian Church gained 
permanent independence from the patriarch in Antioch. 74 The successful 
activities of bishop Maruta increased the number of Christians in the Persian 
Empire considerably. Even members of the Sasanian nobility turned to 

However, the growing influence of the Christians in the Sasanian Empire 
provoked opposition, above all by the Zoroastrian Magians. Socrates alludes 
to religious tensions which eventually led to new persecutions of Christians 
towards the end of the reign of Yazdgard I (399— 420). 75 The Greek ecclesi- 
astical historian and bishop of Cyrrhus, Theodoret, provides us with more 
detailed information regarding the beginning and the reasons for these per- 
secutions. His Church History, which covers the period from 325 to 428 and 
was completed in 450, is also full of documents and an extremely impor- 
tant source for the religious history in the East during the fourth and fifth 

Theodoret, Historia ecclesiastica v.39.1-6 

(1) Around this time the Persian king Yazdgard (I) fought his war against the 
churches, using the following pretext: there was a certain bishop Abdas, who was 
virtuous in many respects. With unnecessary zeal this man destroyed a pyreion. 

70 See Leppin 1996. 7I Frye 1983a: 144; Asmussen 1983: 940 and Sako 1986: 59—61. 

72 On the fate of the Chtistians in the Sasanian Empife duting the foutth and fifth centuties see Hage 
1973: 174-87 and Geto 1981. 

73 Sachau 1907: 72-3. 74 On the Council of 424 see Mullet 1969: 233 and 1981: 298. 
75 van Rompay 1995: 363—75. 

224 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

The Persians, however, call their fire sanctuaries 'pyreia' because they believe that 
the fire is divine. When the king was informed about the deed by the Magians 
he sent for Abdas. (2) He scolded him and ordered him to restore the pyreion. 
Abdas rejected this and said he would do this under no circumstances. The king 
threatened that he would destroy all churches and eventually actually carried out 
his threat. For first he had this man of god executed and then he gave instructions 
to destroy the churches. 

(3) I, however, claim that the destruction of the pyreion was inappropriate. (4) For 
when he came to Athens and saw the city adorned with idols the holy apostle did 
not destroy any altars revered by them but with words he revealed their ignorance 
and showed them the truth. 76 Nevertheless I quite admire the fact that he did not 
restore the temple he had destroyed but chose death over doing this and I deem it 
worthy of the martyr's crown. For worshipping the fire or erecting a sanctuary for 
it seem to me the same. 

(5) From here the storm took its beginning and created the cruellest and wildest 
waves against those set in their faith. And although it has been thirty years since, 77 
the waves are still there because it is rekindled over and over again by the Magians 
as if rekindled by strong winds. (The Persians call those Magians who worship the 
elements as divine. I have described their doctrine in another work 78 in which I 
also responded to their questions.) (6) After the death of his father, Bahram (V), 
the son of Yazdgard (I), inherited together with his rule his father's war against the 
right faith; and when he died he also handed over both of these closely linked to 
his own son. 79 

According to Theodoret the destruction of a Zoroastrian fire sanctuary by 
the bishop Abdas triggered the destruction of all churches in the Persian 
Empire as well as the capture and execution of Christians. It is noteworthy 
that the author tries to explain the significance of the fire and thus to 
make the Persian religion more accessible to his Greek audience. He judges 
the violation of a fire temple as an inappropriate and anachronistic deed. 
The author's words have to be seen in the context of the pro-Christian 
attitude displayed by the Persian ruler Yazdgard I over a long period of 
time. However, Theodoret claims that the bishop's behaviour was used as 
a pretext by the king in order to take action against the Persian Christians. 
Moreover, he states that in the end it was the Zoroastrian Magians who were 
continuously striving for the destruction of the non-Zoroastrian religions. 
The latter remark refers to the ambitions of the Zoroastrian clergy and 
its problematic relationship with the Sasanian kingship, which during the 

76 On St Paul's stay in Athens see Acts 17.16. 

77 The persecutions of Christians, which had started around 420 during the reign of Yazdgard I (399- 
421), thus continued into the last years of the reign of Yazdgard II (439—57)- 

7 This work {ad quaesita Magorum) , which Theodoret mentions repeatedly {ep. 82 and 113), has not 

79 This is Yazdgard II. 

55 The sixth and seventh centuries 225 

course of the fifth century became more and more dependent on the wield- 
ers of power. It would appear that also in the year 420 Yazdgard I, who 
because of his long standing tolerance with regard to Christians and Jews 
received the title 'the Infidel' in the Eastern literature, 80 gave in to the 
Magians. The persecutions, which began during the reign of Yazdgard 
continued under the rule of his successor Bahram V Cor (420—39). In 
his ecclesiastical history Theodoret talks about how the Christians were 
tortured to death. 81 Although in 422 Romans and Persians concluded 
a peace (19) which guaranteed the freedom to practise one's religion in 
both empires, the following period saw new persecutions in the Sasanian 
Empire. 82 

33: Religion and politics during the sixth and seventh centuries 

In the sixth and seventh centuries, no less than before, dealing with reli- 
gious matters formed an important part of Byzantine— Sasanian relations; 
religion could bear an impact on armed conflicts (15) and was the subject 
of agreements and treaties between the powers. Menander Protector, who 
wrote a detailed account of the specific terms of the peace treaty concluded 
in 562 between the Sasanian king Xusro I Anosarvan (531-79) and Justinian 
(2.0), finishes his report with agreements that relate to the situation of the 
Christians in the Persian Empire. 

Menander Protector, frg. 6.1 (= FHG iv, frg. 11) 

When these issues had been agreed upon and ratified, further agreements were 
made, 83 namely regarding the Christians in the Persian Empire. They should be 
allowed to build churches as well as engage in worship without fear, and to sing 
their hymns of praise without impediment, as it is customary also among us. For 
they should neither be forced to convert to the religion of the Magians nor to praise 
the traditional Persian gods against their will. The Christians in turn should not 
attempt in any way to convert the followers of the Magian religion to our faith. 
The Christians should be allowed to bury their dead in graves, as it is customary 
among us. 

Apparently this was a separate agreement, which was concluded after all 
other issues had been agreed upon. The wording at the beginning of the 
passage suggests that there may have been an independent treaty guaran- 
teeing the Christians the full freedom to practise their religion and to build 

Noldeke 1887a: 103. 8l Thdrt. /ffiv.39.7-24. 8l Asmussen 1983: 942. 

The Greek verb used here is nomizein, which in a legal context refers to a usage prescribed by the 

force of law. 

226 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

churches. 84 However, any attempts to convert Zoroastrians to the Christian 
faith were strictly prohibited. Political considerations must have led Xusro 
I to consent to these 'Christian rights', which must have been proposed 
by Justinian. 85 Demographical reasons had been largely responsible already 
for the early deportations of Christian prisoners to the Sasanian Empire 
(36). 8 The fact that Xusro granted these substantial privileges to a religious 
minority also reflects a tolerant attitude that can be seen elsewhere (37). 

As the agreement applied to the situation within the Persian Empire only, 
it was dealt with separately. However, the number of Christians affected 
by it must have been considerable. K. Schmidt claims that the passage 
represents the first ever international regulation concerning the protection 
of religious minorities. 87 This is impressive but may be due to transmission. 
In the peace treaty of 422 the Christians in the Persian Empire had been 
granted the freedom to practise their religion, and the Zoroastrians in turn 
were guaranteed the same privileges in the Byzantine Empire (19). 

As a consequence of the Christological controversies within the Church 
in the West, the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) prompted 
many Nestorian Christians to take refuge in Persia. These were certainly 
no longer seen as 'enemies of the state' and not persecuted in the way other 
Christians had been in the fourth century during the reign of Sapur II 
(309—79) (31). On the contrary, they were perceived as opponents of the 
Byzantine emperor, who in spite of several attempts had failed to restore the 
unity of the Church in the Eastern provinces. In the year 428 the new patri- 
arch of Constantinople, Nestorius, supposedly pleaded with the emperor 
Theodosius, 'Help me destroy the heretics, and I will help you destroy the 
Persians.' 88 

The tensions between the Nestorians and the monophysites, who were 
seen as non-loyal subjects of the Sasanian king, could be felt also in Per- 
sia. The Syrian author and anti-Chalcedonian bishop of Constantinople, 
John of Ephesus (c. 507-86), to whom among other works we owe a col- 
lection of 58 biographies of contemporary 'holy men and women', records 
the words of a Nestorian bishop held before the Sasanian king Kavadh I 

84 Giiterbock 1906: 93-105. 85 Guillaumont 1969—70: 41—66. 

86 See also Wiesehofer 2001: 200—1, who argues that the deportations of numerous Christians by Sapur 
I did not take place for religious but rather for economic and demographical reasons and that the 
king — although unintentionally— thereby contributed to the spread of Christian ideas and Christian 
communities in the Persian Empire. 

87 Cf. Schmidt 2002: 131. 

88 Socr. HE vii. 29. 5; see also Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 259 n. 61, 'How much significance should be 
attached to the patriarch's words is uncertain, however: Socrates at least was critical of his pronounce- 
ment . . . and his tenure of office was short.' 

55 The sixth and seventh centuries 227 

(488-97/499-531) . In his speech the bishop accused the monophysites in the 
Sasanian Empire of being traitors because, as he argued, their faith and rites 
resembled those of their fellow-believers in the Roman Empire. Kavadh I 
reacted by giving instructions to persecute all orthodox monophysites in 
his empire. 89 Similarly revealing are the words with which Barsauma, 90 
one of the most influential Christians in Persia during the fifth century, 
addressed king Peroz (459-84), 'Only if the faith of the Christians in the 
lands of the Greeks is different will their heart and mind focus on you.' 91 
Moreover, the Nestorian Arabic Chronicle ofSe'ert in its own characteris- 
tic way reflects the close relationship between the Persian Christians and 
the Sasanian monarchy 92 Not least the fact that the Sasanian rulers made 
use of Christian bishops as advisors and ambassadors (35) illustrates their 
privileged role at the Persian court. 93 

Xusro II (590-628), who owed his throne to the Christian emperor 
Maurice (582—602), once more issued a statement to the Christians in 
which he allowed them to build churches and permitted anybody with the 
exception of the Magians to adopt the Christian faith. According to Tabari 
he did so by referring to the agreement of the foedus of 562. In this context 
the author also points out that in 562 the Byzantine emperor had promised 
to treat the Sasanians in the Roman Empire well and to allow them to 
establish fire sanctuaries. 94 The pro-Christian attitude of Xusro II 95 is also 
nicely illustrated through a remarkable episode recorded by the Byzantine 
historian Theophylact Simocatta: 

Theophylact Simocatta v.14.1—10 

(1) In the third year, 96 however, he even approached Sergius, a man who had been 
most active in Persia, that a child by Seirem be given to him. When not much later 
this had indeed happened for him, he once more fairly rewarded his benefactor 
with gifts. He dispatched a letter, written in Greek. Word for word, the letter read 
as follows: 

(2) 'To the great martyr Sergius, Xusro, King of kings. I, Xusro, King of kings, 
son of Xusro, have sent the gifts together with the patten not for men to see, and 
not in order that from my words the greatness of your most sacred name shall be 

89 Joh. Eph. Lives, PO 17.142; see also the references in Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 52. 

90 See also above, p. 36 with n. 95. 

91 According to Barhebraeus Chron. eccl. ill. 65. 16— 7; cf. Wiesehofer 2001: 296. 

92 See e.g. PO vii. 2.147. 5 (Scher). 93 See in general Sako 1986 and below, pp. 250-1 (35). 

94 Tabari, tr. Noldeke, p. 287; Bosworth 314 (1000). 

95 On Xusro's attitude towards Christianity see McCullough 1982: 157—62; on the situation of the 
Persian Christians in the sixth and seventh centuries see also Brock 1982: 18-19. 

9 This is the third year after Xusro II took over the throne, i.e. 27 June 592 to 27 June 593; for a 
discussion of this dating see Schreiner 1985; 318 nn. j66—y. 

228 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

known, but because the truth about what has happened has been acknowledged 
and the many favours and benefactions that I have received from you. For I am 
lucky that my name may be displayed on your sacred vessels. (3) During my stay 
at Berthema'is, 97 I asked from you, holy man, to come to my help and that Seirem 
conceive a child in her womb. And as Seirem is a Christian and I am pagan, our 
law does not allow us the freedom to have a Christian wife. (4) I wanted to be 
considerate to you and because of this I disregarded that law: I held and hold her 
among my wives every day in legitimacy, and therefore I resolved now to ask your 
goodness that she conceive a child in her womb. (5) And I asked you and at the 
same time gave instruction in order that, if Seirem conceived a child in her womb, 
I would send the cross that she wears to your most holy house. And in order that I 
and Seirem have this mark for the remembrance of your name, holy man, we hold 
on to this cross. (6) We have resolved to send instead of the cross its value, which 
does not extend 4300 milaresia staters, 98 5000 staters. (7) And from when I held 
this wish within me and was considering this until we got to Rhesonchosron" 
not more than ten days passed, and you, holy man, not because I was worthy 
but because of your goodness, appeared to me in a vision during the night, and 
three times you said to me that Seirem had conceived in her womb. (8) And in 
the same vision I answered you three times, saying, "Good, good." And because of 
your sanctity and mercy, because of your most holy name, and because you grant 
what you have been asked for, from that day on Seirem did not experience what 
is customary for women. (9) I, however, was not in doubt with regard to this but 
trusted your words because you are holy and truly grant what you have been asked 
for. When she did not have to bear womanly matters anymore, I learned from this 
the power of the vision and the truth of what you had said. (10) Immediately I 
dispatched the same cross and its value to your most holy house, giving order that 
from its value one patten and one drinking vessel be made for the praise of the 
divine mysteries, but of course also that a cross, which is owed, be fixed to the 
revered table, and an incense burner, solid gold, and a Hunnic curtain decorated 
with gold.' 

The fact that Xusro II married a Christian woman is certainly remarkable. 
In the later Persian literature this wedding received much attention and 
became the subject of many later Persian romances. 100 Many sources call 
Seirem (or Shirin) Greek but she was actually from Khuzistan. 101 Syrian 
sources even give a detailed description of the wedding ceremony and reveal, 

97 Euagrius and the vulgate MSS falsely give the reading Beramai's; it must be the area of Bet Aramaye 
in lower Mesopotamia; see Whitby and Whitby 1986: 151 n. 73 and Schreiner 1985: 318—9 n. 770. 

98 'Stater' is used in the sense of 'coin', whereas 'milaresion' refers to the type of metal, in this case 
silver coins. 

99 Xhis place has not been identified; Peeters 1947: 31—2 suggests upper Mesopotamia, a town close to 

100 Bosworth 1999: 312 n. 729. 

101 Christensen 1944: 475-6; Bosworth 1999: 312 n. 729 refers to the authority of the Anonymus Guidi, 
who claims that she was of Aramaean origin, from the district around what was later al-Basrah; on 
the author see below. 

55 The sixth and seventh centuries 229 

for example, that bishops and clergy formed part of her train; moreover, 
Xusro built for her places of worship dedicated to St Sergius and Mary, the 
mother of Jesus. 102 We find the most elaborate account regarding Seirem 
in the so called Chronicle ofGuidi, which was composed in Syriac in the 
660s. This is the anonymous work of a Nestorian author, who probably 
wrote in Khuzistan (hence it is also called Khuzistan Chronicle). After the 
historiography of Theophylact Simocatta there are few reliable sources that 
describe the events along the Eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire. A 
source such as the Chronicle ofGuidi, which dates from a period very close 
to the end of the Sasanian Empire, is therefore extremely valuable. 103 The 
text shows that Seirem was also a political factor and personally exerted 
influence on the appointment of the catholicos Gregorius (605-9). '° 4 Most 
likely, the marriage between Xusro and Seirem did not meet with approval 
by the Zoroastrian nobility. Theophylact Simocatta seems to allude to 
this when, in an earlier passage, he mentions that the king debased the 
customs of the Babylonians when he slept with the Christian Seirem. 105 In 
our passage, the author explicitly states that such a marriage was against 
the Sasanian laws. Nevertheless Xusro II chose St Sergius to sanction his 
plans and rewarded him generously. Just as Theophylact Simocatta does, 
many other sources attest to the king's benefactions to the shrine of Saint 
Sergius. 106 

Aside from the Seirem episode, the Persian king's affinity to Christianity 
surfaces in further Western as well as Eastern sources. According to these 
the patriarch of Antioch, Anastasius, consecrated three churches that had 
been built upon the Sasanian ruler's initiative. 107 Xusro is said even to have 
worshipped Christian relics. According to Theophylact Simocatta when 
the Roman ambassador Probus, bishop of Chalcedon, was dispatched to 
Ktesiphon the king summoned him to the palace and asked to see the image 
of the Mother of God. 108 As the bishop carried a representation with him, 
he allowed the king to take a look at it. Xusro knelt in front of the panel 
and claimed that the figure represented on it had appeared to him and told 
him that she was granting him the victories of Alexander of Macedon. 109 

102 Cf. ibid. 

103 Guidi 1903; for an English translation of the first part, which covers the period between the death 
of Hormizd IV in the year 590 and the end of the Sasanian Empire, see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 
229—37; on the dating of this text see Hoyland 1997: 182—5. 

104 See the references in Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 317 n. 55. 

105 Theoph. Simoc. v.13.7. Io6 See the references in Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 176—8. 

107 Flusin 1992: 101— 2. 

108 The incident once more attests to the important function of bishops as diplomats in late antiquity 
(see 35 below). 

109 q£ Theoph. Simoc. v.15.9— 10. 

230 7 Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism 

However, the claim that Xusro II himself converted to Christianity 110 is 
not supported by any evidence. 111 The remarkable privileges enjoyed by the 
Christians in this later phase confirm the earlier and consistently favourable 
situation of the Persian Christians during the first phase of Xusro's reign. 
They are, of course, also a consequence of his good relationship with the 
Byzantine emperor Maurice, who according to Tabari even gave his consent 
to a marriage between the Persian king and his daughter Mary 112 It is highly 
doubtful that such a wedding ever took place, and for good reasons most 
scholars question Tabari's account on this point." 3 It rather looks as if the 
many references to a union between Mary and Xusro are an expression 
of literary fiction based on the marriage between Xusro and the Christian 
Shirin." 4 

Ultimately, the rift between the Persian Christians and the Byzantine 
Church had paved the way for the advantageous situation of the former 
in the Persian Empire. Difficulties arose only when from the end of the 
sixth century onwards conflicts with other theological movements, above 
all with the Monophysites," 5 arose for the Nestorians and threatened their 
position in the Sasanian Empire. This was aggravated by the last and long 
lasting military confrontation between West and East during the reigns 
of Heraclius (610-42) and Xusro II Parvez (15). At this point the religious 
antithesis between a Christian Byzantium and a Zoroastrian Persia surfaced 
again and bore an impact on the military conflict. When in the year 614 the 
Sasanian commander Romiuzan besieged Jerusalem, one of his main goals 
was — according to Tabari — to capture the Holy Cross and to transport it 
to Ktesiphon: 

Tabari, Ta'rih 1 1002 

He reached the city of Jerusalem and captured its bishop, and whatever priests and 
other Christians were there because of the wooden cross, which had been placed 
in a golden chest and buried in a garden with a vegetable plot sown on top of it. 
He harangued them until they brought him to its location. He dug it up with his 
(own) hand, took it out and sent it to Xusro in the 24th year of his reign. 

110 Tabari, tr. Noldeke, 287 n. 2; Bosworth 314 (1000); also Shahbazi 1990: 592. 

111 Shahbazi 1990: 591 states, 'It is certain, however, that any attempt to convert Persia to Christianity 
would have run counter to deeply rooted popular sentiment.' 

112 Tabari, Ta'rih 1 994; tr. Noldeke 283; Bosworth 305; cf. also Tabari, Ta'rih 1 999; Bosworth 311-12. 

113 See e.g. Garso'ian 1983: 579. 

114 Goubert 1951: 179—82; PLRE m s.v. Maria (6) and Bosworth 312 n. 729; Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 
315 n. 21 claim that 'the later oriental tradition transformed Mary into a daughter of Maurice'. 

115 See Frend 1979: on Xusro It's attitude towards monophysitism see Spuler 1961: 192 and Asmussen 
1983: 946-7. 

55 The sixth and seventh centuries 231 

Tabari's dramatic account makes it easy to imagine how the return and 
resurrection of the cross in the spring of 630 was celebrated as a great 
triumph." 6 During the advance of the Islamic Arabs, which led to the 
fall of the Sasanian Empire, the Persian Christians fought alongside the 
conquerors. It is possible that they felt their religion had greater affinity 
to that of the Arab tribes than to the religion of the Zoroastrian Sasanian 
kings," 7 from whose tolerant attitude they had benefited for centuries. 

116 See the references on p. 49. " 7 See Wiesehofer 2001: 204-5. 


Emperor and 'King of kings' 

34: Concepts of 'legitimate rule' and the 'family of kings" 

Although the military confrontations between Rome and Persia continued 
over centuries and their ideological differences were irreconcilable, it is 
evident that both 'world powers' from early on acknowledged the other's 
claims to being of equal rank. In particular the relationship between the 
individual rulers and the way they treated each other are good indications 
for this. Examining this relationship allows us to gain insight not only 
into the state of diplomatic relations and the political balance of power 
but also into the degree of mutual respect that existed between the two 
rulers at a given point. 2 In this context one should pay special attention to 
two fundamental ideas, namely the legitimacy of the ruler's status and the 
notion of a 'family of kings'. Ammianus Marcellinus records an exchange 
of letters between Constantius II (337-61) and Sapur II (309-79), which 
clearly reveals that the two perceived each other's rank as equal to their 
own. The Sasanian king addresses the emperor with the following words: 

Ammianus Marcellinus xvu.$.$ and 10 

(3) 'I, King of kings, Sapur, comrade of the stars, brother of the Sun and the Moon, 3 
am sending many greetings to my brother, the Caesar Constantius.' 4 

The emperor's response begins as follows: 

(10) 'I, Constantius, victor by land and by sea, always Augustus, am sending many 
greetings to my brother, King Sapur.' 

By the middle of the fourth century war between Rome and Persia had 
been going on for quite some time without substantial gains on either 

1 For a detailed discussion of this theme see Winter 1989a: 72-92. 

2 On the representation in the Byzantine authors see Diebler 1995: 187—217. 

3 On the Persian king as ruler of the stars see Widengren 1976: 231. 

4 Cf. Syme 1968: 41. 


34 Legitimate rule and the 'family of kings' 233 

side {j). 5 In the year 356 peace negotiations had begun. In their written 
exchange, both Constantius II and Sapur II tried to set out their conditions 
for peace. Given how tense relations between Rome and Persia were during 
this period, the way the two rulers address each other is remarkable. 

Both kings explicitly place the other on an equal level and clearly show 
mutual respect. The idea of a 'brotherhood of kings' was far more than a 
stereotypical formula used to comply with the diplomatic protocol. The two 
rulers shared the idea that as rulers of their empires — brother of the sun and 
the moon — they partook in cosmic occurrences and therefore possessed 
an aura that removed them from life on earth. 7 As a concept, the notion 
of a 'family of kings' existed throughout the history of Roman— Sasanian 
relations (9). West and East agreed on this notion, which contributed 
to a mutual acknowledgement of the other's sovereignty and compliance 
with an emerging international law. However, this did not reduce concrete 
political conflicts between the two; in the same letter Sapur demanded 
that the Romans return Armenia and Mesopotamia, conditions that were 
unacceptable for Constantius II. 8 

The modern observer may not be surprised to see Rome on an equal 
footing with the Sasanian Empire and the emperor equal to the 'King 
of kings' but was this true from both perspectives; that is, did the West 
acknowledge the Eastern Empire and its ruler accordingly? In this context 
it is crucial to examine whether the legitimacy of the emperor's rule and 
the corresponding legitimacy of the Persian king's rule — postulated and 
acknowledged in West and East — could be used to establish something 
like a 'brotherhood' between the two. The notion of a 'legitimacy of rule' 
was paramount for the Sasanian monarchy 9 Already in the context of the 
foundation of the Sasanian Empire the theme has a special place. The 
legend, as it was told in the so called Book of Deeds ofArdasir, a sixth- 
century work that was composed in the Middle Persian language, reflects a 
late attempt to legitimise the rule of the Sasanians in Iran. 10 The following 
summary may suffice. 11 

The last Parthian king, Artabanos IV (213-24) invited Ardaslr to his 
court to be educated there. One day a young girl, who was favoured by 

5 On the military conflicts during this period see above, pp. 88—90. 

6 Cf. Malal. 18. 19—20 (p. 449) for a letter by Kavadh I in which he addresses the Byzantine emperor 
Justinian with similar words. 

7 On Sasanian kingship in general see Wiesehofer zooi: 176. 

8 See 7 above. 9 Sundermann 1963. 

10 On the Kdrndmak i Artaxer i Papakan (Book of Deeds ofArdasir, son of Papak) see Noldeke 1878: 
22—69; DeMenasce 1983: 1187-8 and Yarszhater 1983b: 379—8. 

11 For the following cf the German translation of the text in Noldeke 1878: 35—47. 

234 8 Emperor and King of Kings 

Artabanos, revealed a secret to Ardaslr. According to her words, the wise 
men and astrologers had warned Artabanos that a new king would rule 
and that someone who would take flight within the next three days would 
acquire greatness, power and victory over Artabanos. Upon hearing this 
Ardaslr took flight together with the girl. Immediately Artabanos and his 
men pursued them. Travellers told Artabanos on his way that a ram would 
follow Ardaslr. When he asked his chief Magian how to interpret this, the 
latter responded, 'This is the majesty of rule; it has not reached him yet but 
we have to rush. It is possible that we will be able to get hold of him before it 
will have reached him.' On the following day Artabanos and his horsemen 
were informed by a caravan that they had seen someone on horseback 
together with a ram. Now the chief Magian told Artabanos, 'May you be 
immortal. The majesty . . . has reached Ardaslr; there is no way to get hold 
of him now.' After that Artabanos turned back and sent out a large army to 
march against Ardaslr. After extensive fighting Ardaslr, who possessed 'the 
radiance of the royal majesty', was victorious and killed Artabanos. 

The 'radiance of the royal majesty, the xvarna?" 1 which in this case was 
symbolised by the ram, is thus closely linked with the royal family. Appar- 
ently, only the one who was able to get hold of the xvarna, who literally 
possessed this 'royal radiance', was called to be king. It becomes clear that 
the question of legitimacy was central to the confrontations with the last 
Arsacid ruler, Artabanos IV. Possession of the 'unreal' xvarna gave entitle- 
ment to kingship and also provided the factual power to aquire the throne. 
Moreover, there were certain prerequisites for a legitimate rule, namely to 
be a descendant of the Sasanian dynasty and to enjoy a special relationship 
with the supreme god. Several rock-cut reliefs depict Ardaslr 's investiture 
as 'King of kings' by Ahura Mazda, the supreme Zoroastrian god. 13 

On the rock-cut relief at Firuzabad Ardaslr I is reaching for a diadem, 
which Ahura Mazda is handing to him as a symbol of his power (fig. 17) . The 
gesture indicates that rule is transferred from the god to the king. Ardasir's 
inscriptions also reveal a desire to legitimise his rule by divine approval. In a 
trilingual inscription from Naqs-i Rustam we read, 'This is the image of his 
Zoroastrian majesty, Ardaslr, the King of kings of Eran, whose descent is 
from the gods, the son of his majesty, the king Papak.' 14 Ardasir's efforts to 
present himself as a god-related and devout Mazda-worshipper, and as the 
possessor of the divinely given xvarrah, his claim to legitimacy as a worthy 
scion of the Iranian (mythical) kings, his successful propaganda against 
the rightfulness of the Parthians and their proper place in the sequence of 

12 On the motif of the xvarna {xvarrah) and its impottance fot the Sasanian monarchy see Wiesehofer 
2001: 176. 

13 On the rock-reliefs of Ardaslr see Girshman 1962: 122—34. I4 Translation Huyse. 

34 Legitimate rule and the 'family of kings' 


Fig. 17 Rock relief at Naqs-i Rustam representing the investiture of Ardasir I 

(Ghirshman, R. (1962) Iran. Parthians and Sassanians: fig. 168) 

(Photo: Roman Ghirshman) 

236 8 Emperor and King of Kings 

Iranian history, prove the importance of the Achaemenid legacy to the 
mind of the early Sasanians.' 15 Examining the late phase of Roman— 
Sasanian relations reveals how much the notion of the legitimacy of royal 
rule influenced the relationship between the states in general and patterns 
of behaviour between the emperor and the 'King of kings' in particular. 

Towards the end of the reign of Hormizd IV (579-90) the Sasanian 
Empire was in a difficult position, with regard to both internal and foreign 
affairs. 16 Above all, the Turkish Hephthalites posed a serious threat along 
the Eastern frontier of the empire. 17 The Sasanians owed it to the support 
of the powerful general Bahram Cobin that in the spring of 589 the Western 
Turks suffered a decisive defeat and became tributary allies. 18 When shortly 
afterwards, Persia faced a period of political unrest, Bahram Cobin decided 
to revolt. Hormizd IV was imprisoned and his son Xusro II Parvez was 
enthroned in February of 590. I9 The deposed king Hormizd was given a last 
opportunity to speak before the highest officials of the empire. According 
to the Byzantine historian Theophylact Simocatta he addressed them with 
the following words: 

Theophylact Simocatta IV.4./—13 

(7) But I see also that the glory of my ancestors is bespattered today by the unholy 
acts that you have committed against me, ancestors who should have been honoured 
like immortals because of the godlike guard that is kept over their descendants every 
day. (8) Although among you the law of nature has been overthrown and laws of 
the state have been erased, the order of the monarchy has been trampled down, the 
presidency of justice has disappeared and vengeance for suffered violence is gone, I 
shall not forget good royal behaviour but shall tell you out of benevolence towards 
the existence of the dynasty what will be beneficial for the Persian state. (9) Satraps 
and all of you gathered around this royal place, develop a common strategy against 
the rebellion, and do not tolerate that a monarchy that is proud and extremely 
powerful, old and very awesome to those inhabiting the world, continues to be 
insulted. (10) Otherwise, you will destroy a great empire and will turn over the 
starting point of many victories, cast down the peak of highest glory and tear up a 
monarchy that is most resilient, and as a consequence you Persians will be deprived 
of your fortune, once power has been taken away from you and the laws of the 
monarchy have been made invalid because of the rebellion, (n) For revolt is the 
precursor of disorder, and disorder equals anarchy, and anarchy, which takes its 

^ Wiesehofer 1986a: 376; on the royal image in the Sasanian period see Abka'i-Khavari 2000. 
16 See Frye 1983a: 162—4. I7 See Bivar 1983a: 215. 

18 On Bahram Cobin see Shahbazi 1989: 519-22. 

19 For the relevant testimonies see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 172—4; see also Whitby 1988: 292-6; Frendo 
1989: 77—88; on the controversial chronology regarding the beginning of Xusro lis reign see Higgins 
1939: 51—2; 1955: 97, who dates Xusro II's crowning to 15 February 590. 

34 Legitimate rule and the 'family of kings' 237 

origin from rebellion, is the start of dissolution 20 . . . (13) If, therefore, you do not 
scatter the rebels you will lead the monarchy into servitude, and you will be a 
plaything for the nations . . . 

Above all, Hormizd criticises the fact that the Sasanian monarchy has not 
been treated with the deserved respect. The aspects emphasised in the 
speech, namely 'the order of the monarchy', 'the royal laws' and especially 
the concern 'for the existence of the dynasty', illustrate how crucial the 
legitimacy of the future king and the continuity of monarchical rule were 
in the eyes of contemporary historians. However, his words did not save 
Hormizd — he was assassinated. 21 

Attempts by the legitimate successor of Hormizd IV, Xusro II Parvez, to 
come to an agreement with Bahram Cobin failed, and on 9 March 590 the 
latter became the new Sasanian king Bahram VI Cobin. Never before in the 
history of the Sasanian Empire had anyone but members of the Sasanian 
dynasty held the throne. Given his lack of power at the time, Xusro II had 
to take flight and to seek help from the Byzantine emperor Maurice. Both 
Xusro and Bahram Cobin were willing to cede large territories to Byzan- 
tium in turn for support. The Byzantine reaction to these offers and the 
emperor's final response illuminate the relations between the empires, in 
particular between the two rulers. The decision was by no means unani- 
mous but rather accompanied by vivid confrontations. 22 In the eyes of the 
Senate it was Maurice's duty to prioritise the interests of his own empire. 
Accordingly, it would have been best to leave the Sasanian Empire to its 
own devices rather than to restore ordered rule. This seemed to be the long 
awaited opportunity to defeat the main enemy along the Eastern frontier 
of the empire. Although the public shared this view, Maurice decided to 
support Xusro II in his attempts to regain the Sasanian throne. His decision 
is even more remarkable if we consider that it entailed new military con- 
frontations rather than peace along the eastern frontier of the empire and 
that Roman soldiers fought alongside the Sasanian 'arch enemy'. Once more 
a letter recorded by Theophylact Simocatta helps us to better understand 
the situation. In a rather humble fashion, Xusro II turns to the Byzantine 

20 On this 'dissolution of the state' see the remarkable parallel in Plato Leg. 945c; for a detailed 
interpretation of this passage see Kaegi 1981b: 132—3. 

21 Cf. Whitby 1988: 294-5. 

22 This conflict within Byzantine leadership is not mentioned in the Greek sources but - along with 
the typical poetic elaboration - it is indeed reflected in the Eastern sources; cf. Firdausi tr. Mohl, 
vol. 7, 109-39; according to Theoph. Simoc. iv.14.1 Xusro II immediately received military support 
from Byzantium; in fact, however, the king had to wait for the requested aid for several months; cf. 
Higgins 1941: 310 n. 88. 

238 8 Emperor and King of Kings 

Theophylact Simocatta iv.11.2-11 

(2) God saw to it that the whole world would be lit up from above and from the 
beginning by two eyes, namely by the most powerful Roman Empire and by the 
wisest rulers of the Persian state. (3) For by these greatest powers the disobedient 
and bellicose nations are winnowed, and man's way of life is well ordered and 
always guided. 23 ... (5) And just in these days the most destructive demons have 
come upon the Persian state and have effected awful things: they have led slaves 
into war against their masters, subjects against their kings, disorder against order, 
what is not appropriate against what is decent, and they have abundantly furnished 
all enemies of goodness with weapons ... (6) For Bahram, the most disgusting 
slave, who was hailed by our ancestors and was conspicuous, and who has not 
lived up to the greatness of his fame, has skipped away towards destruction; having 
wooed kingship for himself, he has disturbed the whole Persian state, and he does 
and endeavours everything in order that he may extinguish the great eye of power, 
(7) and that then the uncivilised and evil-doing nations may acquire licence and 
power against the most peaceful Persian kingdom, then finally in the course of time 
also irrepressible force over your tributary nations - and this a force that does not 
come without a lot of brutal outrage. 24 (8) It is thus appropriate for your peaceful 
providence to extend a saving hand to a kingdom infested by robbers and tortured 
by tyrants, to support a power that is in the process of being destroyed, and to 
construct in the Roman state the motives for salvation, as if universal trophies, and 
to announce yourselves the founders, saviours and physicians of the Persian state. 
(9) For the most powerful kings always have to put into practice all that pertains 
to justice . . . and be an example that it is not allowed to arm slaves against their 
masters . . . (11) May the angels of God, who grant the good things, preserve your 
kingdom irreproachable and free from tyrants. 

Once more Xusro's words are based on the idea that both states were 
equals, 25 and that this equality also applied to the Persian king 2 — his 
own legitimate rule — and the Roman emperor. Only if the 'most powerful 
kings' showed joint responsibility for their rule, the 'good order' would be 

23 For comparison see Petr. Patric. frg. 13, who records the words of the Persian ambassador Apharban 
before the Roman Caesar Galerius, 'It is obvious for all mankind that the Roman and the Persian 
Empires are just like two lamps; and it is necessary that, like eyes, the one is brightened by the light 
of the other and that they do not angrily strive for each other's destruction. For this is not held as a 
virtue but rather levity or weakness. As they believe that later generations will not be able to help 
them they make an effort to destroy their opponents 1 ; see above 17. 

24 At this point the king includes a clear reminder that the Sasanians contributed significantly to the 
protection of the borders against the tribes attacking from the north and via the Caucasus; the 
stability of the region was as crucial for Byzantium; cf 27. 

25 Contemporary authors always acknowledged the Sasanian Empire as a 'politeia; relations were based 
on the experience of a 'Realpolitik, which meant that (East) Rome regarded the Eastern power as 
its equal; cf. Schreiner 1983: 301-6. 

26 In contrast, contemporary literature displays a strong suspicion against the Persians as a people and 
against the Sasanian king; cf. e.g. Theoph. Simoc. iv.13.1; from Theophylact Simocatta's perspective, 
which was influenced by the long confrontation between Heraclius and Xusro II, a relationship of 
mutual trust seems to have been impossible; see also Whitby 1988: 294—5. 

34 Legitimate rule and the 'family of kings' 239 

preserved. 'Chosroes believes that both Empires are of divine right, designed 
by eternal providence for protection of civilization and foreseen in its plan as 
the lights in the firmament.' 27 At the end of his letter, Xusro calls himself the 
son of the emperor 28 and thereby tries to evoke the concept of the 'family of 
kings' as well as to take advantage of the good personal relationship between 
the rulers of both empires. Although a 'Active' father-son relationship may 
suggest a difference in status, the possibility of this diplomatic gesture 
implies an equal rank between the two rulers. It is remarkable that Maurice 
does not fail to pick up on Xusro's preferred 'scenario' and in a subsequent 
letter also addresses the king as his son. 29 

After he had sent the letter to Maurice, Xusro also dispatched ambas- 
sadors with specific proposals for the negotiations. Again the ambassadors 
appealed to the emperor's disposition towards solidarity with the king as 
the legitimate Persian ruler. They acknowledged that through the design of 
the rebel Bahram Cobin the great Persian Empire was close to its downfall 
but argued that the Romans would display a lack of sense if they wished this 
to happen. 30 They continued their speech with the following explanation: 

Theophylact Simocatta 1v.13.y-21 

(7) For one power alone is not able to shoulder the immense burden of taking 
care of the organisation of the universe and one man's pulse is not able to steer 
everything created under the sun. (8) For unlike the oneness of the divine and first 
rule it is not ever within us to take the earth, which is in a state opposed to that 
of the order above, steered here and there towards the unstable by human beings 
who by nature are in a state of flux, and whose views are most useless because of 
their convergence towards the worse . . . (13) What luck would it then bring to the 
Romans, if the Persians are deprived of their power and hand over their rule to 
another tribe? What mark of honour would the Romans acquire for themselves, if 
they reject as suppliant a king who is the most illustrious and bravest of all kings 
on earth? . . . (15) How will you accomplish anything more worthy of a king than 
this during your entire time of your rule?. . . (20) We have learnt that the usurper 
has also sent ambassadors to you, asking to have as a partner the one who has 
not committed any fault and cleverly devising all but that a ruler together with 
a fugitive slave carry out a revolution. What could be more inglorious and more 
abominable than this for the Romans? (21) What kind of foundation of your trust 
will he sustain for his promises, a man who has principles of greatest unfairness 
and who has mobilised a force against his benefactors, who endorses every kind 
of evil-doing in order that he may deprive of his monarchy a ruler who has not 
committed any injustice? 

27 Higgins 1941: 309. 

28 Theoph. Simoc. 1v.11.11; according to Theoph. Cbron. A.M. 6081 (p. 266, 13, ed. De Boor) Xusro II 
had been adopted by Maurice. 

29 Theoph. Simoc. v.3.11; see also Theoph. 266.13. 3 ° Theoph. Simoc. iv.13.5— 6. 

240 8 Emperor and King of Kings 

M. Whitby summarises the ambassadors' appeal as 'a rhetorical expansion 
of the themes of Chosroe's letter (iv 11)'. 3I Apparently the rhetoric worked: 
the emperor granted Xusro II the requested support and declared war on 
Bahram. The reasoning behind the decision is revealing: 

Theophylact Simocatta iv.14.2 

. . . because the emperor thought it unworthy of Latin rule to provide arms for 
criminals and to brave danger for what was not good just because of the number 
of promises, and that the Romans would follow the most shameful principle and 
be branded with immortal blame for ever. 

It was thus the idea of legitimate rule that led Maurice to support whom 
he saw as the lawful leader against a rebel who had claimed the throne 
on false grounds. The emperor must have been confident that his princi- 
ples would have applied also to his own rule as the legitimate heir of the 
Justinian dynasty. In the spring of 591 Xusro II mustered Byzantine troops 
and embarked on a campaign against Bahram Cobin. 32 The subsequent 
military confrontations in the Sasanian Empire led to the fall of Bahram 
Cobin, who fled to the court of the Turkish Khagan where he was assas- 
sinated shortly after. 33 The legitimate Sasanian ruler was restored to the 
throne and a formal peace was finally concluded between Rome and Persia, 
who had been at war since 572. 34 

During the following years Maurice and Xusro II appear much more 
committed to each other than they would have been through the peace 
agreements alone. The close personal relations between the two rulers out- 
lived the short phase of the united campaign against the rebel on the Persian 
throne, and the ideological consequences are striking. 'Previous to 590, 
Rome claimed exclusive dominance of the earth; thenceforth she agreed to 
divide the world into two equal shares. She reserved the West for herself, the 
East she assigned to Persia. Her eternal enemy was to become her eternal 
friend, each with a distinctive outlook on life, each with a peculiar culture 
and civilization.' 35 This situation, however, was as fragile as the life of each 
of the two rulers. 

When in the year 602 Maurice was assassinated by Phocas, Xusro II went 
to war against Byzantium. His decision corresponds with his close bond 
to his former benefactor Maurice and shows remarkable parallels with the 

31 Whitby 1988: 121 n. 50. 

32 On the joining of Roman and Persian troops and the decisive battle at Ganzaka see Theoph. Sim. 
v.n-12; on the date of the battle see Higgins 1939: 53—4. 

33 On the events in the Sasanian Empire, the flight and end of Bahram Cobin see Christensen 1944: 


34 On the peace of 591 see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 174— 5. 35 Higgins 1941: 314— 15. 

34 Legitimate rule and the 'family of kings' 241 

events of the years 590/91. According to Tabari Xusro II became extremely 
angry when it was reported to him how the Romans had betrayed Maurice 
and killed him. He received Maurice's son, who had fled to him, crowned 
him and declared him the new monarch of the Romans. 3 Theophylact 
Simocatta explicitly states that for Xusro Phocas' usurpation dissolved the 
good relationship between Romans and Persians and triggered war. 37 From 
a king's perspective, just as the monarchy in the Sasanian Empire had been 
threatened in 590/91 by a usurper, Phocas' activities and reign of terror in 
602 questioned the imperial rule and asked for solidarity between legitimate 
rulers. Xusro's decision to go to war against Phocas triggered the last great 
confrontation between Romans and Persians (15). 

There is no doubt that until its downfall the Sasanian Empire remained 
the natio molestissima for Rome - which ultimately had to be destroyed. 38 
One of the main reasons for this was the fact that the Sasanians rejected 
Rome's claim for universal rule. 39 However, a Sasanian 'King of kings' 
could be acknowledged and respected by a Roman emperor as a much 
honoured equal, and this status was not threatened by the universal claims 
of the world power Rome. The West and the East shared a basic consensus 
regarding a legitimacy of rule, and this not only manifested itself as a strong 
ideology of rule but could turn into 'Realpolitik - certainly carrying force 
as a political argument. Ultimately this consensus therefore facilitated the 
emergence of an international law binding sovereign states on the basis of 
principles that are still applied today. 

36 Tabari, tr. Noldeke 290; Bosworth 317 (1002). 

37 However, at the very end of his work Theoph. Simoc. (vm.15.7) states as explicitly that the events 
in Byzantium were merely a pretext for Xusro II in order to open war against the West; cf. Garsoi'an 
1983: 578 and Blockley 1985a: 74. 

38 Amm. xxiii. 5. 19. 39 See the commentary on 1 and 2.. 


Exchange of information between West and East 

Between neighbours and rivals there were plenty of opportunities to learn 
about the political strategies and customs of the other. 1 In this context, 
it must be emphasised that a transfer of technology and a curiosity with 
regard to the foreign culture can be observed in both directions. Scholarly 
literature often refers to a 'difference in the degree of civilisation' between 
West and East - this is not justified. The title of this chapter has therefore 
been chosen deliberately in order to stress an 'exchange' rather than a one- 
sided process. To give but one example: on many occasions the Sasanian 
Empire functioned as a mediator of cultural possessions from the Far East 
and India, which were eagerly received by the West. 

The opportunity for exchange was not limited to the official political and 
administrative realms. It can be observed in particular with regard to the 
border regions (map 14) , namely Mesopotamia and Armenia or border cities 
such as Dara, Amida and Nisibis, where a frequent change of rule took place. 
'Enmity did not isolate the two empires from each other ... A common 
language . . . and identical customs prevailed on either side of the frontier, 
linking together related populations split asunder by political accidents.' 2 
In particular the geographic conditions in Armenia and Mesopotamia as 
well as to the west and south-west of the Euphrates, where the Syrian 
Desert formed the actual border between the great powers, prevented any 
strict control of this part of the frontier. Vast mountain ranges or wide 
plains, which were rather an impediment for close communication, and 
also the rivers Tigris and Euphrates formed natural borders, which during 
the course of the centuries also marked the political borders between West 
and East. However, in spite of many attempts to regulate these, there were 
numerous contacts between the populations of the border areas. Moreover, 

1 For a general survey of Byzantine— Iranian relations providing the background for this chapter see 
Shahbazi 1990: 588—99; on the 'diffusion of ideas' through various channels see Matthews 19 

2 Garsoi'an 1983: 569—70. 







244 9 Exchange of information between West and East 

the course of the two major rivers and their many branches provided good 
opportunities for tradesmen and travellers to cover even long distances. 3 

Because of the character of the landscape, also marked by the ethnic and 
linguistic diversity of its inhabitants, the outer frontier of the Eastern part of 
the Roman Empire cannot be compared to the strong and continuous for- 
tification of the 'limes' to the north and west of the Roman Empire. Recent 
scholarship has correctly pointed to the special character and permeability 
of this part of the Roman frontier, which is rather a supervised military 
zone with a mixed population on both sides and a Romanised upper class 
contrasted by nomadic as well as settled inhabitants. It is argued that this 
peculiar make up of the border region always showed an 'open' character 
and that no ruler would have been in the position to disrupt or interdict 
underlying continuities. 4 

With regard to trade relations between the two powers, it has become 
clear that there was a close link between aspects of trade and security, which 
can be observed already for the year 298. 5 Both states made efforts to con- 
trol the flow of goods but rather than being guided by financial reasoning — 
such as aiming at higher customs duties — they sought to protect an often 
'invisible' border along the Mesopotamian— Syrian limes. Unfortunately, 
the unsatisfactory archaeological exploration of important fortifications as 
well as the ancient infrastructure in this region does not allow us to further 
strengthen this argument. In spite of several recent and excellent surveys of 
the history and culture of the Roman Near East it remains true that among 
the provinces of the Roman Empire Mesopotamia and Osrhoene are the 
least explored and documented provinces. No excavations with the specific 
aim of illuminating the Hellenistic and Roman periods have taken place in 
the most important cities such as Edessa, Amida, Carrhae or Nisibis. Nor 
do we know nearly enough about the Roman border fortresses or the road 
system. The barren landscape, the climatic conditions and the political sit- 
uation of the past decades have prevented any closer examination of this 
area, and this represents a major desideratum. Recent surveys and archae- 
ological studies in northern Syria and Mesopotamia as well as along the 
Roman Tigris, often initiated in response to threats posed by the construc- 
tion of dams, have revealed the wide insight gained by a continuation of 
the work. A better knowledge of the genesis and structure of settlements, of 
road systems and their use in late antiquity would also throw light on many 

3 Cf. Millar 1998a: 119-37; f° r the importance of this aspect with regard to trade see also 28. 

4 Whittaker 1994: 99—101 and von Wickevoort Crommelin 1998: 272—3. 

5 See above, 28. 

35 Diplomacy and espionage 245 

questions regarding Roman and Sasanian policies along the Euphrates and 

However, there is no doubt that it was precisely these areas where 
exchange took place or was initiated, be it through official channels and 
diplomatic activities or through other modes of interaction between the two 
cultures. In what follows we want to examine how and via which channels 
the observed exchange of information took place. Which groups were able 
to gain from such communication, which ideas and attitudes were trans- 
mitted, and, not least, who were the carriers of information relating to the 
opponent? Undoubtedly, diplomatic exchange, to which we have already 
repeatedly referred, features prominently when it comes to the transmission 
of detailed knowledge about the neighbour. 

35: Diplomacy and espionage 

Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, De ceremoniis aulae byzantinae 89-90 
(Reiskepp. J98-410) 

(89) What needs to be observed when a great ambassador of the Persians arrives. 
It is necessary that when a great ambassador is announced, the magister sends 
to the border area an illustrious magistrate or silentarius or tribune or also one 
of the notables or magistriani, or he may send whomever he resolves worthy of 
the arriving person, in order that he receives him and guides him safely through 
Roman territory. The one who is sent gets [p. 399] to Nisibis, and he greets him, 
and if he has a letter of the emperor, he hands it over to him, (if not, one by the 
magister), and he urges him to come in. Possibly the magister does not write either, 
but the invitation arises solely through the mandata, to the effect that he come with 
good spirit and in good health. And he goes out with him. It is necessary that the 
magistrates of Dara meet him together with their soldiers in the border area and 
that they receive the ambassador and his men. And if there is something that needs 
to be talked about at the border, it is talked about, because the magistrate from 
Nisibis is accompanying him together with a Persian force as far as the border. 
If there are no talks, it is still by all means necessary that he accompanies him 
together with a force and that whereas the Romans receive him and those with 
him, the other Persians remain on Persian territory, and that he alone with his 
retinue gets to Dara and be attended to. It is the duty of the magistrates of Dara to 
show much alertness and foresight so that the Persian force does not come along 
by some pretext of the ambassador, and in turn follows him and captures the city 
by ruse. But the magistrates must give much thought to this force [p. 400] and 
must be secretly watchful and prevent such scheme. As is customary, the ducici 7 

See Blockley 1980: 89—100; Sako 1986; Lee 1986: 455—61 and 1993a: 166—84; Scott 1992; 159—66. 
Reiske's Latin translation explains this term as ' homines ad ojficium ducum illorum thematum, per quae 
traiectus fit, pertinentes (p. 400). 

246 p Exchange of information between West and East 

cover the expense of the journey here for up to 103 days. For this many days have 
always been determined as sufficient for an ambassador making his way up [to 
Constantinople] , and as many for his return. It happens that he is slow on his way, 
and the emperor gives instructions to the effect that he is given a supplement. The 
record of what has been given to him is kept in the scrinium of the barbarians. 8 
And according to the agreements that were concluded when Constantine became 
praetorian prefect five horses were assigned to him, and 30 pack animals. If the 
emperor wants to give him special attention, he gives order that he be assigned 
much more. If he wants to honour him as well, he must send for him and receive 
him through one of the highly ranked men in Galatia and Cappadocia, and to 
provide food for him. Likewise, he must send to Nicaea to host and look after 
him there. It is necessary that when he gets close to Antioch, 9 the magister also 
sends a magistrianus, who has to meet and greet him, and to find out how he is 
being guided through Roman territory. If the emperor wishes, he does this once 
and then a second time, that is he both writes to him and greets him, and asks 
him how he is being guided. It is necessary that pack animals are ready for him 
at Helenopolis and also light vessels, in order that, if he wishes, [p. 401] he may 
go to Nicomedia on foot, or if he wishes, may get across in the light vessels, and 
there it is absolutely necessary that horses and pack animals are ready for him, in 
order that they receive him and take him to Chalcedon. In Chalcedon the magister 
has to provide lodgings both for him and his men, and to send the optio 10 of the 
barbarians and to set aside for him sufficient expenses for the day, or even days that 
he spends in Chalcedon. And as his host he sends gifts to him. It is the magister s 
duty to immediately send someone to greet him, and to ask how his journey was, 
and that he was not recovering from anything, and simply to entertain him as much 
as possible. It is necessary that his lodgings in the city are prepared in advance as 
is appropriate for the rank of the man and for the group that he brings along, 
and that in there are for him beds, linen, ovens, fireplaces, tables and buckets to 
carry water and to be of service with regard to the other dirty tasks. But the comes 
privatorum bears the expense of the bed linen according to a billet of the magister, 
or rather the sacellarius of the emperor (for now this duty has been transferred to 
him). The praefectus urbis [p. 402] bears the expense for the beds, drinking vessels, 
tables, ovens and pots, again according to a billet of the magister. The men of the 
arsenals provide the fireplaces. The men from the workshops are also assigned to 
him by the supervisor. And the bath of the house, in which he is to live, has to 
be made ready, or close to this, in order that, whenever he wants, he himself and 
those with him can take a bath, and the bath is at their disposal alone . . . 

(90) What should be observed during the other days with regard to the 

The emperor, once he has read the letter, when he wants to, allows the magister 
to inform the ambassador that he may come to the palace on the following day. He 

On the scrinium barbarorum see Clauss 1981: 137. 
9 On the question whether this is Antioch in Pisidia or the capital of Syria on the river Orontes see 

the references in Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 275-6 n. 8. 
10 The optio could be either a military official or an ambassador. 

35 Diplomacy and espionage 247 

himself may inform him, if he wishes, through a silentiarius, that he may come, 
and a silence takes place, and the arms are held up and the labaresioi stand by, and 
when he comes forward the magister receives him into his schola, and he leaves 
him seated and gets up, and he indicates (his arrival) to the emperor; he receives 
him inside, either in the portico or in the Augusteum itself. 11 If the ambassador 
has gifts of his own, he announces this a day before through the magister, in order 
that they may be received, and if the emperor allows this, he shows them to the 
magister in the schola, and they are recorded for him. And it is necessary [p. 409] 
that the magister goes to the emperor in advance to show him the record of the 
gifts. And the ambassador, if he wants them to be received, goes in and asks the 
emperor, in order that he may receive his gifts. And if the emperor allows this, his 
men come in, bearing his gifts, and a similar procedure takes place with regard 
to the royal gifts, and a conversation takes place. It is essential that the emperor 
again remembers the king of the Persians and his disposition continuously and in 
a positive way, and if there is peace, they also talk about that kind of thing, and the 
emperor dismisses him, and he awaits the magister outside, and the magister comes 
out, bids him farewell and dismisses him himself. On the other days he sends for 
him, and they discuss matters. And if he decides to do so, he allows the magister or 
other magistrates together with him to talk with the ambassador outside. If there 
is complete friendship between the states, the king has to send someone to visit 
him continuously and to find out how he is, and also to send him food, and gifts 
of friendship during our holidays and during his special days, and to entertain him 
in all sorts of ways. 

Numerous and wide-ranging works of literature are accredited to the Byzan- 
tine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (905-59), who from 949 
to 959 ruled as monarch. 12 The author's aim was to acquire knowledge on 
a number of different topics, to put it to paper and make it accessible for 
practical purposes. His work De ceremoniis aulae byzantinae is an ency- 
clopaedia compiled on the basis of the records in the imperial archives; it 
is tremendously important with regard to the protocol at the Byzantine 
court and the administrative hierarchy of the Byzantine Empire. It is an 
example of a genre that was popular during the ninth and tenth centuries, 
namely the Taktika, handbooks made up of lists of Byzantine offices and 
titles that were instructive if one wanted to learn about and follow royal 
protocol. Obviously, these texts are also a valuable source for the modern 
historian as they provide much information about the administration and 
bureaucratic hierarchies of this period. The passage gives detailed instruc- 
tions concerning the arrival of a high ranking Persian diplomat and most 
likely has to do with the journey of the Persian ambassador Yazdgushnasp 

11 For the archaeological remains of these buildings see Bardill 1999: 216—30, esp. 227, with further 
references on the role of the Augusteum in entertaining officials. 

12 On the author and his work see Toynbee 1973; Sevcenko 1992: 167—95. 

248 p Exchange of information between West and East 

to the imperial court at Constantinople. 13 Around the middle of the sixth 
century this man played a crucial role for the diplomatic relations of the 
two great powers. 14 His input was also essential for the conclusion of the 
peace treaty of 562 (2.0). On the Roman side, the most significant diplomat 
of this period was Peter the Patrician, 15 who wrote a detailed account of 
Yazdgushnasp's mission, which must be based on an official protocol and 
was clearly used by Constantine Porphyrogenitus in his work. 

The protective measures taken immediately after the crossing of the bor- 
der are remarkable. In particular the instructions concerning Dara must 
result from actual Sasanian attempts to get hold of this strategically impor- 
tant fortification by way of some ruse. In spite of an armistice agreed 
upon in 545 Xusro I was determined to control Dara. lS In 547 the Persian 
ambassador Yazdgushnasp was travelling to Constantinople together with 
a large entourage; on his way he was supposed to capture Dara with the 
help of the Persian troops stationed at Nisibis. The plan failed because the 
Romans made sure that Yazdgushnasp did not enter the city with more than 
twenty of his men; without causing any offence he continued his journey 
to Constantinople where he was received by Justinian and honoured with 
numerous gifts. 17 It looks as if the protective measures mentioned by Con- 
stantine Porphyrogenitus with regard to the arrival of Sasanian diplomats 
also applied to the following period. A set of Roman officials had to make 
sure that Persian ambassadors entered Roman cities as individuals accom- 
panied by only a few men and that the Persian soldiers remained on the 
other side of the border. 

Apart from aspects of security, the passage reflects the great amenities and 
the privileged role enjoyed by the ambassadors both during their journey 
across foreign territory and during their stay in the cities they were travel- 
ling to, in general the capitals of the respective states. It is not surprising 
that such 'special treatment' brought along many opportunities to acquire 
information about the 'opponent'. 18 The following two episodes related by 
Procopius illustrate this process exceptionally well: 

Procopius, De bello Gothico 11.2.1—} 

(1) At this point Vitiges, the leader of the Goths, who had suffered severely from 
the war, sent two envoys to him [Xusro I], in order that they persuade him to 

13 With regard to the controversial date of Yazdgushnasp's embassies see the references in Greatrex and 
Lieu 2002: 275 nn. 5—6. 

14 See above, pp. 139—41. ^ On Peter the Patrician see above, p. 122 on 17. 
11 On the fortification of Dara see pp. 100-4 with figs. 13—14. 

17 This episode is recorded by Procopius (n. 31— 44). lS See Tinnefeld 1993: 193— 213. 

35 Diplomacy and espionage 249 

lead an army against the Romans; 19 he did not send Goths, however, in order that 
they would not immediately be recognisable and spoil the plans, but two Ligurian 
priests, who had been bribed to get involved in this deed. (2) The one, who seemed 
to be of higher integrity, went on this embassy giving himself the appearance and 
name of a bishop (although entitled to neither), the other followed him as his 
servant. (3) On their journey they moved through Thracian territory where they 
recruited an interpreter of the Syriac and Greek language and then entered Persian 
territory without having been noticed by the Romans. For as this happened during 
a time of peace 20 these were not guarding the area meticulously. 

Procopius, De Bello Gothico iv.15.1-2 and ip—26 11 

(1) In Byzantium Xusro (I)'s envoy Isdigusnas 22 met with the emperor Justinian 
in order to talk about the peace and spent a considerable period of time there. (2) 
After much dispute they finally agreed that there should be a five-year-truce within 
the hegemony of each ruler but that there should be frequent embassies between 
both sides, with the envoys going back and forth safely during this period in order 
to settle the disagreements regarding Lazika 23 and the Saracens 24 . . . 

(19) Isdigusnas, however, appropriated more revenues than any envoy before 
him and returned, as I believe, as the wealthiest Persian to his home country. 
For the emperor Justinian had placed the highest honours upon him and gave 
him large monetary gifts before he dismissed him. (20) He was the only envoy 
who was never supervised; he and the barbarians with him (and there were a 
large number of them) rather enjoyed great freedom. During the entire period 
they were allowed to meet and converse with whom they liked, to move around 
anywhere in the city, acquire and sell whatever they wanted, conduct all business 
and do so with utmost freedom, just like they would in their own city; no Roman 
followed or accompanied them or dared to observe them, as was normally the 

Procopius confirms that when Yazdgushnasp stayed in Byzantium he 
enjoyed much freedom and his movements in the capital were not moni- 
tored at all. However, the passage also suggests that contemporary observers 
were aware of the dangers that such privileges for foreign diplomats could 

19 On the political background to this embassy see 13. 

20 The first Sasanian— Byzantine war of the sixth century (12.) had been ended in 532 by the so-called 

eternal peace' (Proc. BP 1.22.3). 

21 On iv.15.19— 20 see Tinnefeld 1993: 207—8. 

22 Elsewhere (Menander Protector, frg. 11 [see 20]) this man is called Yazdgushnasp; see above. 

23 Proc. BP 11. 28. 6— n states that in the year 545 Xusro I did not want a peace but merely a truce and 
that he, moreover, explicitly refused to return Lazika; the hostilities that arose before the end of the 
agreed truce actually focused on this Black Sea region. 

24 As a rule, the Lahmids and Ghassanids (2.5) were excluded from the peace negotiations of this period 
so that the vassal states were able to continue their military confrontations, which also happened 
after the truce of 545; cf. Proc. BP 11. 28. 12-14; thefoedus of 562 (20) was the first one to address also 
the situation of the Arabs. 

250 p Exchange of information between West and East 

entail. 25 According to a military treatise called Peri Strategias, which was 
most likely composed in the sixth century 26 foreign ambassadors who had 
travelled to Constantinople were supposed to be treated well but also to 
be closely observed, in particular if they were representatives of powerful 
states. 27 

In 538/9 the Gothic envoys, who were accompanied by an interpreter, 
travelled unimpeded through Byzantine territory on their way to Persia. 
Interestingly, Procopius refers to the fact that one of the two Ligurian 
priests pretended to be a bishop. Precisely because of their high status, 
bishops played a significant role for diplomatic relations throughout late 
antiquity. The example of the Mesopotamian bishop Maruta has already 
shown how much responsibility a bishop functioning as Byzantine ambas- 
sador could have and how Church officials could influence foreign policy 
(31). z8 Moreover, in particular the bishops in charge of the border regions 
often acted on behalf of the cities and population directly affected by the 
military confrontations. The Greek ecclesiastical historian Socrates records 
the deeds of the bishop of Amida Acacius, who became quite famous in 
this role in the early fifth century. When the Romans refused to allow 5,000 
starving Sasanian prisoners to return to their homes, he made an attempt to 
use funds of the Church in order to pay the determined ransom. Socrates 
summarises, 'This deed of the exceptional Acacius impressed the Persian 
king even more because the Romans showed themselves as being victorious 
in both warfare and good works. The Persian king is said to have wanted 
Acacius to come before him in order that he may have the pleasure of seeing 
the man; Theodosius gave instructions for this and the meeting actually 
took place.' 29 The bishop's activities are yet another testimony for the good 
cross-border relations at the beginning of the fifth century 30 and they also 
reflect a remarkably active role of bishops, who repeatedly intervened in 
the political events of their times. This is confirmed by a passage in Ammi- 
anus Marcellinus according to whom the bishop of Bezabde (in the vicinity 
of Amida) tried to act as mediator when the city was besieged by Sapur 

25 On military and political intelligence in the Roman world see Austin and Rankow 1995; see also 

Ezov 2000: 299—317. 
2 On the discussion regarding the date of this work see Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 128; the authors 

themselves, however, argue in favour of the tenth century. 

27 Peri Strategias 43.1— 13 (= Peri Presbeias); for text and translation see Dennis 1985. 

28 See also Sako 1986. 

29 Socr. HE vii. 21. 1-6. On Acacius 1 visit to the Sasanian court in 422 see Sako 1986: 78—80 and Blockley 
1992: 58. 

30 Cf. Greatrex and Lieu 2002: 43, who also point out, 'The actions of Acacius described by Socrates 
were in effect a reciprocal gesture for the return of Roman prisoners captured from the Huns by 
Yazdgerd I.' 

55 Diplomacy and espionage 251 

II. However, not even his perseverance and private conversation with the 
Persian king motivated the latter to abandon the siege, and the city was 
ultimately captured by the Sasanians. 31 The author indicates that at times 
such diplomatic initiatives of bishops were criticised and viewed with sus- 
picion. He states that the bishop was suspected of having given advice to 
the Persian king as to which parts of the city wall should be attacked. The 
suspicions seemed justified when the enemy's siege engines targeted weak 
and dilapidating walls and it looked as if they had been guided by people 
with inside knowledge of the city 32 

The episode reminds the reader that in a different context the privileged 
status of envoys and the knowledge gained in this way could also be used 
in the preparation for military conflicts. 33 Whereas to some extent this 
was inevitable and had to be accepted as within the limits of diplomatic 
activities, the great powers sought to keep a check on acts of espionage 34 
and defectors. Given the lively trade between the great powers the fear of 
espionage often concerned foreign merchants. High fines were stipulated 
in order to deter them from engaging in such activities (28). In particular 
Ammianus Marcellinus, a man who knew the situation in the East excep- 
tionally well, provides us with much insight into the strict control of the 
border traffic in order to stop Romans who sought refuge on the enemy's 
territory because they might transmit crucial information to the opponent. 
The following passage sketches the activities of a Roman who decided to 
flee the empire for private motives. 

Ammianus Marcellinus xvm.5.1—4 

(1) A certain Antoninus, formerly a wealthy merchant, then an accountant of the 
dux of Mesopotamia and finally protector, an experienced and intelligent man who 
was well known throughout those territories, had got into serious debt through the 
greed of certain people; he realised that he would suffer more and more injustice by 
standing up against the powerful people because his opponents had more money 
and were inclined to bribe those who were investigating the case. In order not 
to play right into their hands, he therefore turned to more cunning ways and 
admitted to the debt, which by way of a shady deal was passed on to the imperial 
treasury. 35 And already at this point he had unbelievable plans; secretly he searched 

31 Amm. xx. 7. 7— 9. 3Z Amm. xx.7.9. 

33 Proc. BP 11. 31— 44; see Lee 1993a: 109-28. 

34 Lee 1993a: 170—82; on potential espionage by Christians in the Sasanian Empire see the reference in 
the Chronicle ofArbela II p. jj, 11. 7—9 (tr. Kawerau); on this see Lieu 1986: 491—5 and Wiesehofer 
2001: 202 and 295—6. 

35 It looks as if Ammianus is trying to excuse Antoninus' activities; he portrays him as the victim of 
fiscal exploitation; this corresponds to the author's general critical attitude with regard to the fiscal 
policy of the Roman authorities. 

252 p Exchange of information between West and East 

through the organs of the state and, as he knew the script of both languages, 36 
turned to accounting: he took down which and how many troops were positioned 
in which places and where and when they would march, ready to fight battle, and 
he also made eager inquiries whether the supplies of arms and provisions and other 
supplies for the war were abundant. (2) While he was thus gathering information 
about the inner affairs of the entire East, namely about the distribution of troops 
and their pay in Illyria, where the emperor was held up by the difficult situation, 
the deadline arrived by which he had to pay the money that he had under threat 
of violence acknowledged in writing as debt. As he anticipated that he would be 
exposed to all sorts of dangers and as the comes largitionum put more and more 
pressure on him to comply with the demands of the other one, he made incredible 
efforts to escape to the Persians together with his wife, his children and everything 
that was dear to him. (3) In order not to raise the attention of the soldiers guarding 
the border, for a small sum he bought an estate in Hiaspis, a place right on the 
river Tigris. Because of this trick, nobody dared to ask him, the owner of a large 
estate, what he was doing in the most remote part of the Roman border territory; 
and with the help of servants who were both loyal and knew how to swim he 
conducted secret talks with Tamsapor, 37 who at the time was a dux and in charge 
of all the areas on the opposite bank; as he had been known before, he and all his 
possessions were ferried over on barges in the middle of the night with the help 
of agile men from the Persian camp, and although so much unlike a Zopyrus still 
similar to a Babylonian traitor. 38 

Apparently Antoninus had used his social and political rank, his education 
and language skills in order to acquire comprehensive insight into Roman 
internal affairs in the East. It is thus not surprising that the Sasanians 
showed an interest in the man and that the Persian satrap Tamsapor, whom 
Antoninus had known already before, 39 helped him in every possible way 
to escape to Persian territory. After his successful flight in the year 359, 
Antoninus became one of the most important advisors of the Sasanian ruler 
Sapur II during his campaigns of 359 and 360 against Rome. Throughout 
the books 18-20 of Ammianus Marcellinus' work he plays an important 

The historian Agathias, who was from Myrina in Asia Minor, tells us 
about very different ways of acquiring knowledge about the other culture. 

36 These are Greek and Latin. 

37 This name, which consists of the royal name and the adjective 'tarn' (= strong, powerful), is a 
name of honour and indicates the high rank of the official; our sources mention Tamsapor also as a 
persecutor of Christians during the reign of Sapur II; cf Peeters 1925: 276—7. 

38 During the reign of the Achaemenid king Darius I (522—485 bc) a Persian Zopyrus had gone to 
Babylon in order to worm himself into the confidence of the people there and afterwards play the 
city into Darius' hands (Hdt. m.153— 8); Lib. Or. 12.74 compares Antoninus with the Spartan king 
Demaratos who in the early fifth century had fled to the court of Darius I (Hdt. VI. 70). 

39 Amm. xvin. 8. 5— 6. 

35 Diplomacy and espionage 253 

Agathias 11.27. $ an ^ Tv.30.2—4 

[11. 27. 8] Also in this respect I have recorded precisely what they themselves wrote 
down, and, I believe, it is particularly appropriate to mention all this in the present 
work. In what follows I shall therefore - when necessary - give a detailed account, 
even though this means that I shall include long lists of names, and those of 
barbarians, some of whom have not even achieved anything noteworthy. 

[rv.30.2] As I promised, I have given a comprehensive chronology of the Persian 
kings and a list of the years of their reigns. I think that this list is very accurate 
and exact because it is based on Persian books. 40 (3) For the translator Sergius 41 
went there and persuaded the guards and administrators of the royal records 42 to 
make the relevant documents available to him (for I frequently asked him to do 
so); he claimed that he wanted to see them for no purpose other than that what 
they knew and appreciated would also be recorded among us, and they therefore 
were happy to comply, thinking that they were doing a good deed, which would 
bring fame to their kings, if it were known also among the Romans which and 
how many kings there had been and how they had taken care of their succession. 
(4) Sergius, however, recorded their names and dates, and the more important 
events 43 that took place during their reigns and then carefully translated them into 
Greek (for he was the best translator around, admired even by Xusro (I) himself 
and acknowledged as a specialist in his field in both states). After he had made 
an accurate translation he handed everything over to me, in a conscientious and 
friendly way, and he encouraged me to use the material for the purpose it had been 
given to him. And this has now happened. 

Agathias' work on the reign of Justinian continued Procopius' Histories but 
was never finished. In five books he covers the years between 552 and 558. 44 
Apart from comprehensive ethnographical and chronological digressions 

40 On the question of sources used by Agathias for his digression on Persia see Cameron 1969—70: esp. 
109—10 and 161— 2. 'Evidently Agathias did not suspect that Sergius' information was not quite what 
it purported to be, nor did he realize that it was in some places contaminated with a Syrian bias' 


41 Sergius was probably Syrian; as Syriac was a kind of 'mediating' language between the Greek and 
the Persian world (cf. e.g. Proc. BP 11.2.3) Syrians were often used as interpreters. However, when 
referring to his sources Sergius explicitly talks about Persikai bibloi, which were certainly composed 
in the official language of the Sasanian Empire, namely Middle Persian. 

42 From the Achaemenid period onwards the Persians had kept such annals; cf. Hdt. vii.ioo.i and 
viii. 90. 4; Thuc. 1. 129. 3; Diod. 11. 32. 4. The Sasanian annals, whose middle-Persian title (xvatai- 
namag) means 'book of rulers' or 'book of lords', were the official chronicle of the Sasanian Empire. 
They began with the reign of Xusro I (531—79), who drew on earlier records and added new infor- 
mation. After his death these annals were continued to the reign of Yazdgard III (632—51). None of 
the original Middle Persian text has survived. We get an idea of this 'book of rulers' only through 
later Arabic and neo-Persian books, especially through the revised translations made by authors of 
the ninth and later centuries. 

43 It looks as if Sergius did not produce a full translation of the material but made excerpts or summarised 
the records as he saw appropriate. 

44 For an English translation see Frendo 1975; on Agathias and his work see also Cameron 1970. 

254 9 Exchange of information between West and East 

the main theme of his narrative are the Roman wars against the Francs, 
Goths and Sasanians. 45 Agathias points to his efforts in gathering precise 
information from official Persian sources. 4 Access to these he owed to the 
activities of the translator Sergius, who was held in high esteem by Xusro 
I (531—79) and whom the author asked to translate the Persian documents 
into Greek. Agathias may have claimed to have had access to the archives of 
the Sasanian kings in order to make his account more trustworthy; however, 
even if this is a false claim, it is remarkable that the scenario could have 
been possible. 

As the above examination has shown, contacts took place via diplomats, 
spies, refugees, exiles and historians who were interested in foreign cultures 
and whose names we often know. The mediators were also 'unemployed 
philosophers' as well as Christians and Jews in the Sasanian Empire because 
of their close contacts with their fellow-believers in the Roman Empire. 
They all found their way into the neighbouring empire and furthered the 
exchange of ideas and knowledge between the two cultures, above all within 
the border areas and in Mesopotamia. 47 

36: Deportations: Enforced resettlement of prisoners 

Moreover, in the context of the Persian conquests numerous people were 
deported into the Sasanian Empire. 48 Together with these, Western ideas 
and culture reached Iran. Already Sapur I (240—72) boasted in the epi- 
graphic record of his deeds that as a consequence of his victorious cam- 
paigns in the Roman Eastern provinces he had deported innumerable peo- 
ple from the Roman Empire and resettled them in the Persis, in Parthia, in 
the Susiane, in Mesopotamia 49 and all other provinces. 50 The deportations 
of a large number of Romans to the Sasanian ancestral homelands after the 
victory over the emperor Valerian in 260 and the assignment of Roman 
prisoners to several cities in Iran are confirmed by a Nestorian chronicle, 
the so-called Chronicle of Se'ert, which was composed in Arabic. This 
text stems from a period soon after 1036 and is not only significant for 
our knowledge about the religious situation in Iran but also an important 
source with regard to the Sasanian— Roman relations. 51 

4 * On the Persia-excursus see Cameron 1969-70: 69—183. 46 See Suolathi 1947. 

47 Matthews 1989b: 29-49. 4S Lieu 1986: 475—505 and Kettenhofen 1994b: 297-308. 

49 See Simpson 2000: 37—66. ,0 SKZ, § 30 (pp. 324—6 ed. Back). 

51 Decret 1979: 93-152. 

S6 Enforced resettlement of prisoners 255 

Chronicle ofSe'ert, PO iv 220—1 

In the eleventh year of his reign Sapur son of Ardaslr entered the land of the 
Byzantines, where he remained for some time laying waste to many towns. He 
defeated the emperor Valerian and took him prisoner, taking him to the land 
of the Nabataeans, where he fell ill from grief and died. Then (and) the bish- 
ops whom the wicked Valerian had exiled returned to their sees. When Sapur 
left the Byzantine lands he brought with him captives whom he settled in Iraq, 
Ahwaz, Persia and in the cities founded by his father. He himself founded three 
cities, giving them names derived from his own. The first of them lies in the 
land of Maisan, he named it Sod Sapor, and is now called (this is) Deir Mahraq. 
The second one is in Persia and is still (up to our time) called Sapur. He also 
rebuilt Gundesapur, which had been demolished and called it Antisapur. This 
name is a mixture of Greek and Persian and it means: 'you are the opposite of 
Sapur'. He founded a third city on the Tigris river and he gave it the name 
Marw Habur and currently this is Ukbura and its surroundings. In these cities 
he settled a number of captives, distributing among them lands to cultivate and 
houses to live in, and because of this the number of Christians in Persia increased. 
Monasteries and churches were built. Among the settlers were priests taken cap- 
tive in Antioch who settled in Gundesapur. They elected Azdaq from Antioch as 
their bishop because Demetrius, patriarch of Antioch, had fallen ill and died of 

The author gives a detailed list of the Persian territories and cities where the 
Roman prisoners were settled. According to the chronicler the resettlements 
led to an increase of the Christian population in the Sasanian Empire. 52 
Tabari also talks about the deportations under Sapur I. 

Tabari, Ta'rih 1 82/S 

Then he passed from there (Nisibis) to Syria and Roman Anatolia and conquered 
a great number of cities. It is said that Cilicia and Cappadocia were among the 
territories that he took, and that he besieged a king who happened to be in Anatolia 
called Valerianus in the city of Antioch, captured him, and took him together with 
a large group that was with him and settled them in Gundesapur. It is mentioned 
that he forced Valerianus to build the dam at Sostar at a width of one thousand 
cubits. The Roman had it constructed by a group sent to him by the Romans. He 
made Sapur promise to release him after he had finished building the dam. It is 
said that he took from him great wealth and that he set him free after he cut his 
nose off. It is also said that he killed him. 

Tabari's words suggest that there were many skilled workers among the 
Roman prisoners. In fact, among the Roman prisoners who were settled 

52 On the Christianisation of Sasanian Iran after the deportations and on the consequences of this 
development for the Roman— Sasanian relations see Decret 1979: 91—152 and Wiesehofer 1993: 369. 

256 p Exchange of information between West and East 

in Iran, primarily in the modern provinces Fars and Huzistan, there were 
numerous architects, technicians and craftsmen, 53 who during the following 
period participated in the building projects of Sapur I. Their skills were 
important for the construction of bridges, dams, roads and palaces. One 
of the most famous building projects was most certainly the dam of Sostar 
(Shushtar), which Tabari mentions and which was located on the river 
Karun in the province of Huzistan. Its ruins can still be seen today and 
attest not only to the grandeur of the monument but also of Sapur Is efforts 
to make use of Roman experts on irrigation systems in order to exploit the 
fertile soil of this region for everybody's benefit. 54 

Both Tabari and the Chronicle of Seen also mention the foundations 
of cities by the Sasanian king. Analogously to other Sasanian foundations 
of cities the king often chose names that testified to his victories. 55 In 
most cases the name of the king was part of the name of the city. Many 
of the Roman captives came from the Syrian metropolis Antioch. The 
majority of these were deported to the city Veh-Antiok-Sapur (= 'Sapur 
made [this city] better than Antioch). The city later developed into the 
intellectual centre GundeSapur (= 'the weapons of Sapur'). In this case 
Sapur restored and extended an existing settlement, which was renamed to 
become GundeSapur soon after 260. 56 

Yet another remarkable example is Blsapur (= 'the beautiful [city of] 
Sapur'), which the king founded in the Persis after his victory over Vale- 
rian. 57 The city was modelled on the plan of a Roman military camp. Its 
first inhabitants were mostly Roman soldiers who had been taken captive 
in the year 260. It looks as if the foundation was an attempt to integrate 
the captives and to facilitate their life far away from their home country. 
In fact, we do not hear of confrontations between the Iranian population 
and the new settlers. 58 

In Blsapur, the 'Sasanian Versailles', 59 one notices a remarkable influence 
of Western craftsmen on Iranian art. Many of these were among the Roman 
prisoners but there were also volunteers, who had been attracted by the good 
pay and the exceptional prestige of the royal project — the royal buildings 
made up a quarter of the whole city 6 ° Above all the Western influence 

53 Schwaigert 1989: 19—20 and 23—33. 

54 Ghirshman 1962: 137 with fig. 174 and O'Connor 1993: 130 with fig. 106; in general cf. Rahimi- 
Laridjani 1988. 

55 On the Sasanian foundations see Metzler 1982: 183-212. 

56 Potts 1989: 323—35 and Sayili 1991: 1119— 20; on the history of the city cf. Abbott 1968: 71—3; Schoffier 
1979: 28—9; Shahbazi 2002a: 131— 3; Richter-Bernburg 2002: 131-3. 

57 Ghirshman 1962: 138—9. 5 Metzler 1982: 226. 59 See Ghirshman 1956-71. 
60 Porada 1980: 197 and Lieu 1986: 479. 

j6 Enforced resettlement of prisoners 


Fig. 18 The great hall of the palace in Blsapur 

(Ghirshman, R. (1962) Iran. Parthians and Sassanians: fig. 177.179) 

(Photos: Paris, Museum Louvre, model by A. P. Hardy) 

can be seen with regard to the throne room in the royal palace of Bisapur 
(fig. 18). 

The altogether sixty-four recesses were decorated with Greek key- 
patterns, leaf-scrolls and dentils, which give a Western ambience to the 
room. The themes of the floor mosaics reveal that the Roman artists mod- 
elled the room on the famous repertory of the mosaics of Antioch and 
North Africa. 61 However, the models imported from the West were never 
reproduced stereotypically but rather 'adapted by local artists to Iranian 
tastes and traditions'. 62 

It is impossible to estimate how many Romans were resettled by Sapur 
I but given that he conquered thirty-six cities in the year 260 the number 
must have been large. Deportations were not uncommon in antiquity. 3 

61 Ghirshman 1962: 140-1. 

)Z Ibid. 141; see also Shahbazi 1990: 594—5, who lists numerous examples illustrating the reciprocal 

influence of Western and Eastern art; on Roman models for the design of the Sasanian rock reliefs 

see Azarpay 1981— 2; on the reception of Western motifs in Persian art see also Goldman 1989: 831—46. 
63 Oded 1979; on a list of deportations in Iran ranging from Cyrus I (550—529 bc) to Xusro II (ad 

590-628) see Peeters 1924: 305-9; on methodological considerations see Olshausen 1997: 101-7; see 

also Kulesza 1994: 221—50. 


p Exchange of information between West and East 

Fig. 18 (cont.) 

S6 Enforced resettlement of prisoners 259 

To give but a few, one is reminded of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews 
or the 10,000 Roman prisoners who according to Plutarch were deported 
to Iran by the Parthians after the battle of Carrhae/ 4 The Romans also 
deported Persian prisoners of war. Cassius Dio, for example, tells us that 
after the capture of the Parthian capital Seleucia-Ktesiphon the emperor 
Septimius Severus (193-211) moved 100,000 Parthian captives to the West/ 5 
During the third century the Romans had hardly any opportunity to deport 
Persian prisoners of war into the empire because in most instances they 
found themselves exposed to Sasanian attacks and in a defensive position. 
In the context of their famous defeat of Narse (293—302), however, we hear 
about Diocletian (284—305) deporting colonies of prisoners from Asia to 
Thrace. Galerius (305—11) must have taken these captive after his victory 
over Narse in Armenia, when the entire Sasanian camp including the royal 
family fell into his hands (6). In an encomium for the Roman emperor 
Constantius II (337—61) the orator Libanius mentions Roman attacks on 
Sasanian territory during which important cities were captured and the 
entire population deported to Thrace/ 7 The author also states that the 
deportations served to commemorate Rome's victory and gave the emperor 
an opportunity to display his generosity and compassion. 68 These words 
suggest a difference between Roman and Persian deportations. S. Lieu 
argues that 'unlike the Sassanians, the Romans had no coherent plan of 
settlement for these prisoners and did not seem to have any economic aim 
in their deportation beyond using them as cheap farm-labourers. The main 
objective of the deportation was clearly propagandistic' 9 While this may 
be true, the deportation of Persians certainly continued into the late phases 
of Roman-Sasanian relations. Several sources attest to the deportation of 
the Persian population of Arzanene to Cyprus in the year 578. 7 ° 

With regard to the East, the weak phase after the death of Sapur I 
meant that the flow of Roman prisoners to the Persian Empire ceased. 
Not before the reign of the powerful Persian king Sapur II (309-79) and 
his many successes against Rome did deportations become more frequent 
again. 71 The economic motives of the Sasanian kings that could be seen 
already with regard to the deportations of Sapur I are confirmed by the 
so called Martyrology ofPusai, the Syriac testimony of a Christian martyr 

4 Plut. Crass. 31.8. 5 Cass. Dio Lxxv.9.4. Pan. Lat. vm. (v).2i.i. 

67 Lib. Or. 59.83-4. 6S Ibid. 59.85. s ' Lieu 1986: 487. 

70 Ioh. Eph. HE VI. 15 provides us with the most detailed account; but cf. also Theoph. Simoc. III. 15.13— 
15, who mentions 100,000 prisoners of war. 

71 Amm. xx.6.y; on the deportation of Roman prisoners by Sapiir II see Lieu 1986: 495-9. 

260 p Exchange of information between West and East 

who lived during the reign of Sapur II, when comprehensive persecutions 
of Christians took place in the Sasanian Empire (31). 

Martyrology ofPusai under Sapur II, Acta martyrum et sanctorum, 
ed. P. Bedjan, 11 208-10 

This illustrious Pusai was one of the descendants of the captives whom Sapur the 
son of Hormizd 72 had brought from the territory of the Romans and had settled 
in the city of Veh Sapur which is in the province of Fars, for the father of this 
Pusai had arrived in that captivity. 73 He was a person at ease with his way of life 
in this world, and was a believer in Christ before he was taken captive. He lived, 
then, by order of the king, in the city of Veh Sapur, and he made himself a native 
in it, and married a Persian woman from the city, and converted her, and baptised 
his children, and raised and instructed them in Christianity. Now when this king 
Sapur the son of Hormizd, he who stirred up the persecution against the churches 
of the east, 74 built Karha d-Ladan and brought captives from various regions and 
settled them in it, it was also pleasing to him that from all the peoples of the cities 
which were in the territories of his dominion he should bring thirty families, more 
or less, and settle them among them, so that through the mingling of their people 
the captives should be bound by their families and by their love, so that it should 
not be easy for them to return by flight, a few at a time, to the territories from which 
they had been taken captive. 7S Now Sapur planned this by his cunning, but God 
in his compassion made use of it to bring about good, for through the mingling of 
the captives with the peoples he captured the peoples for the knowledge of truth, 
and made them disciples on the way of verity. Like the other families whom they 
brought from various regions and settled in Karh, by the command of Sapur son 
of Hormizd, so also they brought [families] from the city of Veh Sapur which is 
in Fars. Among these whom they brought from Veh Sapur they also brought the 
blessed Pusai, and his wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and the people 
of his household, and they settled them in Karha d-Ladan. Pusai was a skilled 
craftsman, and was especially expert in the making of woven cloth and in the 
embroidery of gold filigree. And he was one of those craftsmen whom king Sapur 
gathered together from all the peoples, the captives and his own subjects, and made 
into a single, multi-tiered, guild, and he established a workshop for them beside 
his palace in Karha d-Ladan. Now the blessed Pusai, because he was excellent at 
his craft, was praised before the king, and he was continually giving him honours 
and great gifts. Indeed, after a short time he made him chief craftsman, as day by 
day the man grew in honour and praise. 

72 According to Braun 1915: 58 n. 2 this must be a confusion and refer to Sapur I, son of Ardasir, during 
whose reign many Roman prisoners of war were deported to the Sasanian homelands. 

73 On Pusai see Schwaigert 1989: 155—9. 

74 On the persecution of Christians during the reign of Sapur II (309—79) cf. pp. 220—1 (31). 

75 This refers to the desire of the deported population to return to their home countries. 

j6 Enforced resettlement of prisoners 261 

The text once more illustrates a Persian interest in resettling prisoners of 
war, whose knowledge and skills could be an asset/ 6 It was thus a matter of 
acquiring not only a work force as such but also the knowledge of specialists, 
and the main beneficiary of this process was the king, who continued to 
make use of those he had captured 'with his own hands'. 77 There is no doubt 
that the use of Roman prisoners contributed considerably to improving the 
infrastructure of the Sasanian Empire. 78 One of the consequences of the 
resettlements of large numbers of Roman prisoners was — to say it in modern 
terms — a 'transfer of technology', which guaranteed an economic upturn 
for Sasanian Iran. 79 

Deportations of Romans continued into the sixth century. The following 
two passages refer to activities of Xusro I (531—79). After his conquest of 
Syrian Antioch in the year 540 the king resettled the inhabitants of this 
metropolis to the city Veh-Antiok-Xusro, which he founded in the vicinity 
of the Sasanian capital Ktesiphon. 80 

Procopius, De bello Persico 11.14. 1-4 

(1) Xusro (I) founded a city in Assyria, 81 in a place that was a day's march away 
from the city of Ktesiphon; he named it 'Xusro s Antioch' and settled all cap- 
tives from Antioch there, for whom he even had a bath and a hippodrome built 
and whom he provided also with other comforts. (2) For he brought along the 
charioteers and musicians from Antioch and other Romans. (3) Moreover, at pub- 
lic expense he took more care in catering for these people from Antioch than 
was customary for captives, and (he did so) for their entire life, and gave orders 
to call them 'the royal ones' so that they would not be responsible to any mag- 
istrate but the king alone. 82 (4) When one of the other Romans had escaped 
and managed to seek refuge in Xusro s Antioch and when one of the inhabitants 
claimed that he was a relative, the owner was no longer allowed to remove this 
captive, not even if one of the highest ranking Persians happened to have enslaved 
the man. 

7 On this passage and specifically on the consequences of the depottations fot the spread of Christianity 

see Brock 1982: 4 and 14—15. 
77 Cf. Metzler 1982: 214 and 219—20. yS Wiesehofer 1993: 369. 

79 For this link between a 'transfer of technology' and captivity, also with regard to the Roman-Sasanian 
relations, see Stoll 1998: 254—70. 

80 Theoph. Simoc. v.6.10; cf also Giiterbocki9o6: 93—105; Christensen 1944: 386 and 487— 96; Metzler 
1982: 205 and Wiesehofer 2001: 292—3. 

81 'Assyria' refers to the core territories of the former Assyrian Empire to the west and east of the river 
Tigris; this comprises roughly the area of modern northern Iraq; over time the political-geographical 
name Adiabene' replaced the traditional name Assyria'. In late antique sources Assyria' can also refer 
to entire Babylonia including the southern Mesene; cf. Amm. xxm.6.15— 24; see also Sellwood 1985: 
465—9 and Oelsner 1996: 112. 

2 The Martyrology ofPusai already mentioned royal workshops where prisoners of war were employed 
as skilled workers and supervised by the king. 

262 p Exchange of information between West and East 

Tabarl, Ta'nh 1 898 

After a few years of his rule, when he had established his kingship and all the lands 
had submitted to him, he marched on Antioch, where the leading commanders 
of the emperor's army were stationed, and took the city. Then he ordered that a 
drawing be made of the city according to scale, with the number of its houses, its 
streets and everything that was in it, and to build him a replica city next to al- 
Mada'in. And the city known as al-Rumiyya was built after the image of Antioch. 
Then he brought the people of Antioch to settle in it, and when they entered the 
city-gate, the people of each house went to the building that resembled the one in 
which they had lived in Antioch as if they had never left it. 

The accounts of Procopius and Tabarl agree on the fact that the new city 
was modelled upon a Western example. Whether an exact replica of Syrian 
Antioch or not, many public institutions were designed with the purpose 
of making life familiar as well as pleasant for the new inhabitants. Both 
authors describe a situation that must have been rather acceptable for the 
settlers of the new Antioch. Xusro's attitude was not exceptional. In general, 
the kings guaranteed the freedom of religion, settled groups who shared 
ethnicity, religion or language in the same places, and awarded economic 
and social prestige to the skilled workers — measures and principles that 
compensated at least a part of the deported population to some extent for 
the loss of their home country. 83 Indeed, for centuries there is no attestation 
of any resistance of the deported population against their fate. 

However, one should probably not idealise the policy of the Sasanian 
kings. Our sources represent the views of a privileged part of society and tend 
to focus on the norms, activities and achievements of the powerful, mostly 
of individual emperors and kings. The described 'cultural exchange' cannot 
have taken place without great human suffering among the captives. 84 
Nevertheless, we are left to speculate about the actual circumstances of the 
deportations. The Byzantine historian Zonaras can probably not be trusted 
when he claims that on their journey from Antioch, the cities of Cilicia 
and Caesarea in Cappadocia those captured by Sapur I (240—72) received 
very little food and were driven to water holes like cattle in order that no 
water had to be carried along for them. 85 Similarly, Agathias' accusation 
that Sapur I had not been able to gain profit from his conquests because 
he had left nothing but mountains of corpses 8 must be judged as atrocity 
propaganda against the Eastern neighbour. 87 It would appear that such 

Wiesehofer 1994: 258. 4 Lieu 1986: 500. 5 Zon. xii.23. 

Agath. iv.24.3— 4. s? Metzler 1982: 216 n. 4. 

37 Mutual cultural interest 263 

comments do an injustice to Sapur I and other rulers, who primarily sought 
to use the specialised knowledge of Western workers for the benefit of their 
own empire. 

37: Mutual cultural interest 

Apart from the rather pragmatic motive to secure Western know-how, sev- 
eral Sasanian kings showed a 'philosophical' interest in Western civilisation 
and culture. Western and Eastern sources agree that in particular Xusro 
I Anosarvan (531—79), whose added title means 'the wise king', continu- 
ously strove to familiarise himself with foreign cultures. Agathias elaborately 
describes the king's passion for Western literature and philosophy. 

Agathias 11.28.1-2 

(1) After saying a few words about Xusro (I) I shall immediately return to my 
previous topic. For he is praised and admired excessively not only by the Persians 
but also by some Romans as a lover of literature and an expert on our philosophy 
because someone supposedly translated the Greek authors into Persian for him. 

(2) It is even claimed that he devoured the whole Aristotle 88 more thoroughly than 
Demosthenes 89 devoured Thucydides 90 and that he was full of the doctrines of 
Plato, the son of Ariston, that neither the Timaeus (although it bursts with scholarly 
theory and presents innumerous scientific speculations) was too demanding for 
him, nor the Phaedo or the Gorgias, nor any other subtle and complex dialogue, 
such as, for example, the Parmenides. 

Although the author tries to be specific in his claim that Xusro was admired 
unduly — he seems to doubt that the king actually knew the works of Aris- 
totle or Plato well 91 — his words express a fundamentally critical attitude 
towards Eastern culture and the 'barbarians' rather than precise knowledge 
about Xusro's activities. 92 In any case, the king's eagerness to get to know 
the works of the Greek philosophers is a remarkable testimony to his tol- 
erance and open-mindedness as well as his desire to learn and make use 
of new things. 93 It is also noteworthy that — according to Agathias — the 
Sasanian ruler was praised not only in the East but also in the West; fur- 
ther on the author tells us that Xusro welcomed numerous Western pagan 

88 Literally 'the one from Stagira', Aristotle's birth place. 

89 Literally 'the orator from the demos Paeania'. t; ° Literally 'the son of Olorus'. 

91 Wiesehofer 2001: 216—17 attributes the sceptical attitude of the Byzantine historian to his excessive 

92 On these prejudices see Cameron 1969—70: 172—6 and Duneau 1966: 13—22; Pugliese-Caratelli 1971: 

93 On Xusro's attempts to write medical works see Sezgin 1970: 186; for further references see Shahbazi 
1990: 293; in general on the efforts of late Sasanian kings to acquire knowledge on foreign cultures 
see Wiesehofer 2001: 216—21; on philosophy in particular see Walker 2002: 45—9. 

264 9 Exchange of information between West and East 

philosophers 94 exiled after 529 when Justinian (527-65) had closed the 
Academy in Athens, the last institution of pagan erudition. 95 One of these, 
Priscianus, wrote a treatise entitled Answers by the philosopher Priscianus 
to the questions posed by the Persian king Xusro' {Prisciani philosophi 
solutiones eorum de quibus dubitavit Chosroes Persarum rex). 9 When the 
Neo-Platonists were disappointed by their experience in Persia and wished 
to return the king actually supported them by negotiating an amnesty for 
them in the 'eternal peace' of 532. 97 

Eastern sources confirm Xusro's exceptional desire for erudition as well 
as his open-mindedness and tolerance. The king himself composed a book 
of his exploits which has survived in the works of the Persian author Ibn 
Miskawayh, who died in the year 1043. This author's universal history was 
written in Arabic and among other topics covers the history of Persia from 
its beginnings to the end of the Sasanian Empire. In a manner that was 
characteristic for his time, Ibn Miskawayh attributes much significance 
to the Persian monarchy during the Sasanian period. He wrote during a 
period that saw a Persian reaction to the Arab supremacy and the beginnings 
of modern Persian 'national literature'. 98 The author points out that his 
account followed Xusro's own book, which the king had written about his 
conquests and the way he ruled his empire. 99 

The Book of Deeds of Xusro I Anosarvdn; Ibn Miskawayh, Tagdrib al-umam, 
p. 206, I. 2 -p. 207, I. 7 

When we had finished studying the lives of our ancestors ... we turned to the 
lives of the Romans and the people from India, and we took from these what was 
laudable, using our intellect to select (as a standard for this) and choosing according 
to our discrimination (distinguishing with our cleverness). And we picked out from 
all of it that which embellishes our rulers turning it into a guide for exemplary 
behaviour and custom. (While doing so) our souls were not at variance with us 
about what our passions favour. 

(Then) we told them about it and informed them of it and wrote to them of what 
we disliked of their behaviour and declared these things forbidden suggesting alter- 
natives. We have not disliked anyone because they belonged to a different religion 
or a different religious community. We have not been selfish with (the knowledge) 
we received, yet we have also not disdained to learn what (knowledge) they possess. 
For acknowledging the learning of truth and knowledge and pursuing it are the 
most significant embellishments for a king, while their scorning of learning and 

94 Agath. 11. 30. 3. 

95 On the Greek philosophers' flight to the court of Xusro I see Schoffler 1979: 37-41; see also Hartmann 
2002a: 123-60; 2002b: 59—86. 

9 Altheim and Stiehl 1954: 22—6. 97 Agath. 11. 31. 1—4. 
98 Caetani 1909: xn— xm. 99 Grignaschi 1966: 17. 

37 Mutual cultural interest 265 

hiding from the search for knowledge causes them the greatest harm. For whoever 
does not learn has no insight. When I had examined what these two peoples pos- 
sessed of governmental and political cleverness and when I had combined the noble 
deeds of my ancestors with what I gathered through my own reasoning, what I had 
myself found out, and what I received from the kings who do not belong to us, I 
established the work from which follow success and goodness. I dismissed the other 
nations, for I found no insight, nor intelligence, nor cleverness in them but rather I 
found them to possess injustice, envy, deception, greed, avarice, maladministration, 
ignorance, (a tendency to) break agreements, and little reward. No government 
can prosper on the basis of these things, nor do they generate prosperity. 

The passage attests to Xusro's efforts in gaining all sorts of knowledge 
about different cultures. This aspect of Sasanian kingship, which had been 
ignored for a long time, has received its deserved attention by more recent 
scholars. 100 Admittedly, Xusro I tries to appear in the best light, 101 but 
his intellectual curiosity and his willingness to learn from foreign peoples 
and to appreciate other cultures are as obvious as his tolerance with regard 
to persons of a different faith. Numerous further testimonies confirm the 
extent to which the king engaged in the study of philosophy and literature, 
theology, statecraft, law and medicine. 102 Both he and Xusro II Parvez (602- 
28) were largely responsible for the fact that Sasanian culture flourished 
during the late phase of the Empire. 103 F. Altheim and R. Stiehl give an 
accurate assessment by calling late Sasanian Iran a centre for the exchange 
of both religions and ideologies. 104 

Our study of the relations between Rome and Iran from the third to the 
seventh century has shown the following. Reducing the Sasanian— Roman 
confrontations to episodes of war and ignoring the role the East played in 
establishing close relations is inappropriate. This holds true although the 
Eastern power seems to have been more willing to receive Western ideas 
than vice versa. Both empires made intensive use of the many different ways 
in which they could exercise influence on the other. This influence was felt 
in all aspects of life, political, diplomatic, economic and cultural. As the 
Byzantine author and diplomat Peter the Patrician put it, 'It is obvious 
for all mankind that the Roman and the Persian Empires are just like two 
lamps; and it is necessary that, like eyes, the one is brightened by the light of 
the other and that they do not angrily strive for each other's destruction.' 105 
Unfortunately, the hopes articulated in these words were not fulfilled. 


10. 1 

Garsoian 1983: 586—92 and Shahbazi 1990: 592. 

On the clear 'self-praise' of the king see also Wiesehofer 2001: 217. 

Cf. the references in ibid. IO? On late Sasanian culture see Wiesehofer 2001: 216—21. 

Altheim and Stiehl 1957: 275. z ° 5 Petrus Patricius, frg. 13; see 17. 


Lists ofSasanian Kings and Roman emperors 




Ardaslr I 


died 241/42 

Alexander Severus 

Maximinus Thrax 
Gordian I 
Gordian II 




Sapur I 




Gordian III 
Philip the Arab 

Trebonianus Gallus 
Claudius II 










Hormizd I 




Bahram I 




Bahram II 
















Bahram III 









Hormizd II 


Constantius I 















Constantine I 



Maximinus Daia 



Appendix , 



Sapur II 


Ardasir II 
Sapur III 
Bahram IV 

Yazdgard I 

Bahram V Gc 
Yazdgard II 

Hormizd III 
Peroz I 







rCavadh I 




Xusro I 



Hormizd IV 


Bahram VI 



Xusro II 





Kavidh II 



Ardasir III 




Xusro III 






Hormizd I 


Xusro IV 

reign uncertain 

Peroz II 

reign uncertain 

Xusro V 

reign uncertain 

Yazdgard III 


Constantine II 




Constantius II 









Theodosius I 




Theodosius II 




Leo I 


Leo II 






Anastasius I 


Justin I 


Justinian I 


Justin II 


Tiberius II 







Chronological table 


c. 226/227 



235/236 (?) 






253/4 or 255-257 



The Sasanian Empire is founded 
Ardaslr I attacks Hatra 
Ardaslr I invades Roman territory 
Severus Alexander responds with counter-attacks 
Ardaslr I conquers Nisibis and Carrhae 
The Sasanians conquer Hatra 
Gordian III marches against Persia 
Nisibis and Carrhae are reconquered; the Romans are 
victorious at Rhesaina and advance into the Sasanian 
province of Asurestan 

Sapur I defeats Gordian III at Mislk and concludes 
peace with Philip the Arab 
Sapur I conquers Armenia 

Sapur I advances into Mesopotamia and Syria; the 
Sasanians are victorious at Barbalissos 
The Palmyrene prince Odaenathus scores first suc- 
cesses against the Sasanians 
The Sasanians advance into Cappadocia 
Sapur I rejects Odaenathus' offer of alliance; rap- 
prochement between Rome and the Palmyrene 

Sapur I is victorious at Edessa; Valerian is cap- 
tured; the Sasanians advance into Cilicia, Cappado- 
cia, Lycaonia; a large number of inhabitants of 
the Roman Empire are deported into the Sasanian 

Odaenathus counter-attacks the Sasanians 
Odaenathus defeats the Sasanians several times and 
advances to Ktesiphon twice (262; 264?) 


Chronological table 


267 Odaenathus is assassinated 

267—272 Zenobia rules in Palmyra; the 'Palmyrene Empire' is 

founded (from 271/272) 
272 Aurelian destroys Palmyra 

276-293 The Zoroastrian priest Karter is at the height of his 

power under Bahram II; upon Karter's initiative Mani 

is imprisoned (277) 
279 The emperor Probus receives the title Persicus maximus 

283 Cams attacks Persia and advances to Ktesiphon 

From 286 Diocletian introduces measures to protect the Roman 

eastern frontier 
288 Diocletian and Bahram II conclude peace 

290 (?) Diocletian installs Tiridates III as Armenian king 

295 (?) Diocletian adopts the title Persicus maximus 

296 Sasanian— Roman confrontations resume; Narse invades 

297 Diocletian issues an edict against the Manichaeans; 
Galerius is defeated in Mesopotamia 

298 The Romans are victorious against Narse in Armenia at 
Satala; peace of Nisibis entails considerable advantages 
for the Romans 

before 309 Hormizd II attacks the Romans without any success 

312 Maximinus Daea fights a war in Armenia 

328 The Arab prince Imru'ulqais dies 

22 May 337 Constantine the Great dies in the middle of prepara- 

tions for a Persian war 

338 Sapur II resumes hostilities with Rome and conquers 


From 339/340 Christians are persecuted in the Persian Empire under 

Sapur II 

350 Sapur II is unsuccessful in capturing Nisibis after besieg- 

ing the city twice 

359 Sapur II captures Amida and Singara 

363 Julian attacks Persia; military catastrophe and the 

emperor's death; Julian's successor Jovian concludes a 
disadvantageous foedus with Sapur II 

367 Sapur II has the Armenian king Arsaces assassinated 

371 Sapur II attacks Armenia 

377 Romans and Sasanians divide Armenia between 



387 (?) A treaty confirms the partition of Armenia 

408 Arcadius asks Yazdgard I to become guardian of his son 


408/409 Byzantium and the Sasanian Empire conclude a trade agree- 


410 Synod of Seleucia-Ktesiphon; Yazdgard I allows the Chris- 

tians to practise their religion in the Sasanian Empire 

420 Persecutions of the Christians resume in the Sasanian 

421 Byzantine— Sasanian war 

422 Bahram V Cor and Theodosius II conclude peace 
439—442 Byzantine— Sasanian war; Leo I refuses to make monetary 

contributions for the protection of the Caucasus passes; 

Yazdgard II advances into Roman territory 
443-450 Yazdgard II suffers defeats against the Hephthalites in the 

465 Leo receives a Sasanian embassy complaining that the 

Zoroastrian Magians were impeded in practising their rites 

in Cappadocia 
After 474 During the first half of his reign the emperor Zeno makes 

subsidiary payments to Peroz I towards the fortresses in the 

Caucasus; payments cease after Peroz Fs death in 484 
484 Synod of Bet Lapat; the Christians in the Sasanian Empire 

follow the Nestorian doctrine 
484 Peroz I dies in battle against the Hephthalites 

From 494 Mazdakite movement and long lasting turmoil in the 

Sasanian Empire 
502—532 First Sasanian— Byzantine war in the sixth century; Kavadh 

I starts the war when Anastasius I refuses to support him 

financially against the Hephthalites 
503 The Sasanians conquer Amida 

506 Peace is concluded 

522 Kavadh I asks Justin to adopt his son Xusro in order to 

secure his son's succession 
526 Military confrontations resume 

529 Numerous pagan philosophers seek refuge at the court of 

Xusro I in Ktesiphon when the academy in Athens is closed 

by Justinian; Justinian installs the Ghassanid al-Harit V 

ibn Cabala (Arethas) as the leader of many Arab tribes; he 

thereby sets up a counter weight to the Lahmids fighting 

on behalf of the Sasanians 

Chronological table 


532 'Eternal peace' is concluded 

538 Ambassadors of the Gothic king Wittiges appeal to Xusro 

I in Ktesiphon and try to persuade him to go to war against 

540-562 Second Sasanian-Byzantine war in the sixth century, trig- 

gered by invasions of the Lahmid Alamoundaros into 
Roman territory 

540 Xusro I conquers Antioch; the inhabitants of the Syrian 

metropolis are deported to the Sasanian Empire and reset- 
tled in the new foundation Veh-Antiok-Xusro 

544 The Sasanians fail at their attempt to conquer Christian 

545 Both sides agree on an armistice 
549 Fighting continues 

551 A five-year armistice is concluded, which does not include 

552 Justinian tries to introduce the breeding of silk worms 
in Byzantium in order to gain independence from the 
Sasanian intermediate trade 

556/557 Peace negotiations take place and a general armistice is 


562 Justinian and Xusro I Anosarvan conclude ajbedus 

From 568 Romans and Turks enter diplomatic relations 

570 The Sasanians advance into the Yemen 

572—590 Third Sasanian-Byzantine war in the sixth century 

588/589 The end of the reign of Hormizd IV sees confrontations 

with the Turks along the Eastern Sasanian frontier 

590/591 Maurice intervenes in rivalries over the Sasanian throne; 

Xusro II Parvez prevails against the rebel Bahram VI Cobin 

602 Xusro II has the last Lahmid ruler Numan III assassi- 

nated; Xusro IPs 'benefactor' Maurice is overthrown by 
Phocas; the Sasanian king begins war against the Romans 
and advances into Armenia and Cappadocia 

604 Several Arab tribes unite and destroy a Sasanian army at 

Du Kar 

c. 605 The Sasanians conquer the important border cities Amida, 

Rhesaina, Kallinikos and Kirkesion; the Romans lose all of 

c. 608—610 The Sasanians advance into Asia Minor 


611 Syrian Antioch is conquered 

613 Tarsus and Damascus are conquered 

614 Jerusalem falls and the Holy Cross is taken to Ktesiphon 

615 The Sasanians capture Chalcedon; Roman attempts at rec- 
onciliation with the Sasanians fail 

619 The Sasanians conquer Egypt 

622 Heraclius embarks on a Roman counter offensive 

623 The Romans free Asia Minor from Sasanian control 

626 The Sasanians and Avars attack Constantinople but fail 

627 The Sasanians are defeated at Niniveh 

628 Kavadh II Seroe and Heraclius conclude peace 

628/629 The Sasanians return their conquests in Armenia, 

Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt to the Romans 
630 The Holy Cross is restored to Jerusalem 

636 The Arabs defeat the Romans at the Yarmuk river; in the 

following period the important Roman Eastern provinces are 
636 The Arabs defeat the Sasanians at Qadisiya 

642 The Arabs defeat the Sasanians at Nihavand 

651 Yazdgard III, the last Sasanian king, is assassinated 




The Latin term amicitia describes various personal or political aspects of 
friendship, i.e. it is used in the context of relations between individuals as 
well as states. Outside Rome amicitia can point to a treaty or to friendly 
relations between two states that existed without an official foedus. Amici- 
tia required bilateral consent. In general, the declaration of amicitia was 
motivated by the desire for a reconciliation of interests. 


Breviaria were short histories written in a continuous narrative, in contrast 
to a 'chronicle', which was in general a list-type record of events and dates 
in chronological order. Breviaria intended to both entertain and teach. 
They primarily served to provide uneducated new elites with a necessary 
historical and cultural knowledge. This genre became particularly popular 
during the fourth century ad. 


This was the mailed cavalry that the Romans faced for the first time in 
190 bc when they fought the Seleucid king Antiochus III. The catafractarii 
contributed significantly to Crassus' defeat at Carrhae against the Parthians 
in 53 bc. The impact of this unit was also responsible for the military strength 
of the Sasanians in the third and fourth centuries ad. The catafractarii were 
armed with a heavy lance and attacked their enemies' lines frontally in a 
single body. 

Christological controversies 

After Constantine the Great had become a supporter of Christianity deep 
theological confrontations emerged within the Roman Empire. During the 
time of bishop Alexander I of Alexandria (312-28) the main dispute was 


274 Appendix 3 

over Arianism. According to Arius, a cleric from Antioch, Christ was not 
truly divine. In contrast, Alexandrian theologians announced that God the 
Father and Jesus were of one substance. The controversy escalated, and 
Constantine the Great, concerned about the unity of the empire, convened 
the Council of Nicaea (325), which condemned Arius and prescribed the 
Alexandrian doctrine. The Council of Constantinople (381) confirmed this 
conclusion and ended the dispute, which was labelled 'Trinitarian' accord- 
ing to the three natures of the divine. Shortly after, the controversy flared 
up again, this time with much greater consequences. It revolved around 
the nature of Christ, the relationship between the human and the divine in 
Christ. The patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, refused to call the Vir- 
gin Mary 'the bearer of God' {theotokos) and clearly distinguished between 
two natures in Christ (so called extreme dyophysitism) . In contrast, the 
patriarch of Alexandria, Cyril I (412-44), proclaimed that Christ was of 
one nature and that in him god and man had become one {monophysitism) . 
Another Council took place at Ephesus in 431 and condemned Nestorius as 
a heretic. Under Dioscurus (444—54) the power of the patriarch of Alexan- 
dria appeared to be at its zenith. However, new Christological controversies 
erupted. The archimandrite Eutyches, an adherent of the Alexandrian doc- 
trine at Constantinople, took Cyril's doctrine a step further and argued that 
after his incarnation the two natures of Christ became one divine nature. 
At the so-called Robber Synod of Ephesus (449) Dioscurus was once more 
able to promote monophysitism successfully. Under the emperor Marcian 
(450—7), however, a different religious policy began. The Council of Chal- 
cedon (451) brought about a famous and final decision on the Christological 
dispute, by way of defining Christ as both god and man, two natures that 
were inconvertible but also inseparable (so called moderate dyophysitism) . 
This formula repudiated both Nestorianism and monophysitism. All later 
attempts to integrate the positions failed. 


Very similar to the catafractarii, these mailed cavalry units were additionally 
protected by a cuirass made of small plates that covered the whole body. 
They are attested from the third century ad onwards. 


In late antiquity this was the rank of leading officials employed at the impe- 
rial court and in the provinces, in both the civil and military administration 
of the Roman Empire. The comes commerciorum was responsible for the 

Glossary 275 

trade in the border provinces, the comes foederatorum for the supervision 
of the allied non-Roman units, who were mostly commanded by generals 
appointed from their own tribes and peoples. The comes (sacrarum) largi- 
tionum, who was a court official, was in charge of the imperial finances; 
among other things he supervised the collection of taxes and customs duties, 
controlled all mints and the yields of the mines and was responsible for the 
budgets of civil and military service. The titles and exact duties of the 
individual comites varied considerably in the course of late antiquity. 

Constantinian revolution 

This is an expression coined by modern scholarship to express the new 
relationship between the Roman state and Christianity after the reign of 
Constantine the Great (306—37), when the persecutions of the Christians 
were finally abandoned. Constantine's conversion to the Christian faith 
and the fact that pagan cults were increasingly undermined in state and 
society certainly entailed tremendous historical consequences. At the end 
of the fourth century Theodosius the Great declared Christianity as the 
only orthodox religion in the Roman Empire. 


Aside from the general meaning 'leader', in particular the leader of an 
army or a military unit, from the third century ad onwards the term also 
described a military rank. When Diocletian reorganised the administration 
of the Roman Empire he separated civil and military functions. From then 
on, the dux was in charge of the troops positioned in the border provinces. 
He was essentially the military official responsible for the protection of the 


Originally, the term foedus described an obligation under oath and therefore 
pertained to religious law. Later, this formal aspect gave way to the emphasis 
on a 'treaty' or 'alliance'. Increasingly, the term defined an official treaty 
between states. By concluding such a formal treaty, a. foedus, the armed 
confrontations between rivalling powers were ended and precise terms of 
peace established. A foedus aequum was based on the equal status of both 
empires. In the case of a foedus iniquum one empire had to acknowledge 
the rule of the other. Prior to the conclusion of a. foedus ambassadors had 
to be exchanged. The terms of the treaty were written down and came into 
effect only when the two sides had formally signed them. 

276 Appendix 3 

imperium mains 

This is the power status of a military command that superseded the author- 
ity of other officials in their sphere of command. 

Incense route 

This is the name of one of the most famous caravan routes in antiquity 
It commenced in southern Arabia and ran along the western coast of the 
Arabian peninsula to the commercial centres in north-west Arabia (Petra, 
Bostra). Via this trade route Arabia's luxury goods were transported to the 
Roman East, among other things the much desired frankincense. 


The town was a religious centre of the Sasanians in the Persis. During 
the Sasanian period it was as significant as Persepolis had been during the 
Achaemenid period. After the Islamic conquest of the Sasanian Empire 
Istachr was destroyed. 

ins Italicum 

By being granted the ius Italicum communities outside Italy gained a priv- 
ileged legal status. This entailed autonomous administration and indepen- 
dence from the provincial governors, but most importantly fiscal privileges 
and a special legal treatment of landed property in the area, which proba- 
bly enjoyed tax exemption as a rule. However, we do not know the precise 
content and details of this privilege. 


This was the name of a dynasty of central Asia that flourished particularly 
during the first centuries bc and ad, when it united parts of central Asia, 
Iran, Afghanistan and India to form an important empire. During the 
Arsacid period these so-called 'Indoscythians' were powerful opponents of 
the Parthians. At the time of the rise of the Sasanian dynasty the power of 
the Kusan, who were a possible threat at the north-eastern borders of the 
Sasanian Empire, was already waning. 


This culture of Scythian origin inhabited Colchis, a region situated along 
the south-eastern shore of the Black Sea, bordering Armenia and the Cau- 
casus. The Lazi gained historical significance only in late antiquity, when 
they took over power from the ancient Colchians. They were a vassal state 
of Rome and subject to Sasanian influence only between 470 and 522. 

Glossary xjj 

Magians (magoi) 

According to Herodotus, the magoi were a Median tribe. The Greeks also 
perceived them as a priestly caste, who were particularly knowledgeable 
with regard to the interpretation of dreams, as well as astrology and magic, 
and who served first the Median kings and later the Achaemenid rulers. In 
the Sasanian period the Magians were the most important religious officials 
within the Zoroastrian religious community. 


This was the rank of a variety of Roman officials who, especially in late 
antiquity, could be extremely powerful. The officials were always masters of 
one particular field of activity. The magister equitum was thus commander of 
the cavalry, and the magister officiorum presided over the offices, i.e. he was 
the head of the civil administration of the empire. The magister militum per 
Orientem was responsible for the troops stationed on the Eastern frontier, 
which included the recruitment of and jurisdiction over these; in contrast, 
the magister militum praesentalis commanded the soldiers stationed in the 
capital and therefore performed his duties in the immediate environment 
of the emperor. 


Mani (216-77) was tne founder of the Persian religion that was named 
Manichaeism after him. Already as a child Mani was inspired by visions 
in which the right faith was communicated to him. He claimed to be the 
last prophet and saviour of mankind. Although Mani acknowledged that 
Zarathustra, Buddha and Jesus had preached the truth in earlier times, he 
wanted to correct the mistakes made by other religions since and to preserve 
the good aspects of these religions. As it incorporated Iranian, Babylonian, 
Indian and Christian elements, Manichaeism was a syncretistic religion, 
a factor that must have contributed to its popularity. It was comparable 
to the other great world religions in that it offered salvation and answers 
regarding fundamental questions about the origin of the world, the soul, 
the body and the character of evil. Mani took care that his doctrines were 
written down in order that they were not modified by later transmission. 
Manichaeism was therefore clearly a book religion. During the reign of 
Sapur I (240—72) Mani was free to travel and preach his religion, which 
spread quickly throughout the Sasanian Empire. After the death of Sapur, 
however, the Zoroastrian priests, who did not tolerate any other religion 
besides their own, urged the new king to imprison Mani. In the following 

278 Appendix 3 

period the Manichaeans were persecuted in the Sasanian Empire and many 
of them sought refuge in both the West and the East. 


Originally the Medes were an Iranian people of horsemen who migrated to 
the Iranian mountain regions at the beginning of the first millennium bc 
and who from the eighth century bc onwards became very significant. In 
alliance with the Babylonians the Medes overthrew the powerful Assyrian 
Empire and extended their rule into Asia Minor to the river Halys (590- 
585). Around 550 bc the Persian Cyrus revolted against the Median king 
Astyages. The Persians became the successors of Median rule and were often 
incorrectly called 'Medes' by the Greeks. 


see Christological controversies 


The Nabataeans were a people in northern Arabia who became significant 
from the fourth century bc onwards. Their confrontations with the rivalling 
successors of Alexander the Great brought them in contact with the Greek 
world. Petra, the capital of the Nabataean Empire, was a major centre of the 
flourishing caravan trade along the Incense Route. The Nabataean Empire 
reached its greatest extension around 100 bc. From the middle of the first 
century bc it became dependent on Rome. Upon the instigation of the 
emperor Trajan in ad 106 it was integrated into the Roman Empire and 
became the province of Arabia, of which the new capital was Bostra. 


see Christological controversies 


This was the region in south-eastern Iran that became the political centre 
of the Achaemenid Empire and a centre of Iranism. After the conquest of 
Alexander the Great the impact of 'Hellenism' did not affect this area much 
so that the 'Iranian spirit' could develop further. Important places in the 
Persis were Persepolis, Pasargadai, Istachr and Naqs-i Rustam. 


The Greek title was used for holders of both magisterial and military offices. 
In late antiquity the chiefs of Arabian tribes were often called phylarchs. 
Already Cicero used the term with this specific meaning. 

Glossary 279 

Praetorian prefect 

The office was created by Augustus. A praefectus praetorio was appointed 
from members of the equestrian rank and in charge of the praetorian 
cohorts, the elite troops of the emperor in Rome. Gradually his military 
duties were extended to include civil functions, and the number of office 
holders varied between one and three. Constantine the Great reorganised 
the office by assigning exclusively civil functions to the praetorian prefect. 
He became the most important imperial administrator, who commanded 
the large administrative districts of the empire, the praefecturae (Gallia, 
Italia, Illyricum, Oriens), which were in turn divided into dioceses. In 
late antiquity the praetorian prefect was one of the highest officials in the 
Roman Empire. 

Saracens/ Sarakenoi 

Authors of the first three centuries ad use the name Sarakenoi for a nomadic 
Arab tribe from the Sinai desert, which was in close contact with the Roman 
governor of the province of Arabia. In late antiquity and during the Middle 
Ages Christian authors in particular used the term for all Arabs, later for 
the Muslims, to some extent for all non-Christians. 


This is the title of Achaemenid, later also Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian 
provincial governors. Within their satrapies, the geographical regions 
assigned to the satraps, they were responsible for the collection of tribute; 
in times of war they were the military commanders of the troops within 
their sphere of influence. They also held diplomatic as well as judicial pow- 
ers. Because of the concentration of power within the hands of individual 
satraps the central power of the Great king was frequently challenged by 
individual satraps. 


Peoples who were perceived as dangerous equestrian tribes inhabiting areas 
along the Black Sea, the Don and the Dnieper rivers to the lower Danube, 
were collectively referred to as 'Scyths' by ancient sources. The Greek histo- 
rian Herodotus describes their society and customs at length in the fourth 
book of his Histories. In the seventh and sixth centuries bc they entertained 
close trade relations with the Greek colonies along the Black Sea coast. 
Some of these tribes settled in these regions whereas others at times moved 
deep into Western Asia. Among the most famous Scythian tribes are the 
Sakai, who inhabited the region east of the Caspian Sea. Later, the name 

28 o Appendix 3 

'Scyths' was used for tribes of the Iranian Sarmatae and the nomadic tribes 
who lived around the Black Sea. 

Silk Road 

The Silk Road or Silk Route was a famous ancient trading route, which 
was used for trading many desired luxury goods such as silk, pottery, 
mirrors and pigments but also facilitated the exchange between differ- 
ent religions and cultures. The Silk Road extended from China across the 
oases of the Tarim River valley to the West. It went through Samarkhand, 
Merv, Ekbatana (Hamadan) into Mesopotamia, from there it continued 
to Syria, via Palmyra to Antioch on the Orontes or Tyrus to the Eastern 


Because of the increase in the price of gold Constantine replaced the pre- 
vious gold denomination, the aureus, with this slightly lighter gold coin, 
which during the course of late antiquity became the main Roman denom- 
ination. The solidus weighed 1/72 of a Roman pound of gold. 


In the Roman Empire a tabularius was responsible for dispatching and 
delivering letters or other written communications. He could be commis- 
sioned by private individuals or by public institutions. Because of their large 
numbers, imperial messengers {tabularii Augusti) were organised according 
to the example of the military and belonged to the respective fields of impe- 
rial administration. When they dispatched particularly important official 
communications they were allowed to use the cursus publicus, the imperial 
mail system. 


The modern term tetrarchy refers to the simultaneous rule of four emperors, 
two Augusti and two Caesars, with the latter of lower status than the former. 
This system was introduced by Diocletian in ad 293. Each of the four 
tetrarchs was in charge of one of four geographic areas within the Empire. 
By way of adoption all four tetrarchs were closely related. The reigns of 
each were carefully fixed beforehand in order to secure and determine 
succession. Although this system was abandoned in favour of dynastic rule 
after Constantine had defeated Licinius in 324, the model of 'multiple rule' 
clearly influenced the character of imperial government in late antiquity. 

Glossary 281 

Vassal kings 

In Iran these were individual local princes who tried to retain their indepen- 
dence from the central power, the King of kings. In the Parthian Empire the 
claim for power of the vassal kings led to the disintegration of the empire 
and contributed significantly to the fall of Arsacid rule. 

Zarathustra/Zoroaster - Zarathustrianism/Zoroastrianism 
Zoroaster is the Greek form of the old Iranian male name Zarathustra. The 
Iranian religion of Zarathustrianism/Zoroastrianism was named after this 
religious founder or prophet. His date is as controversial as his origins. The 
prevalent view is that he lived around 1000 bc in central Asia/Eastern Iran. 
However, both a much earlier date (c. 1200 bc) and a much later lifetime 
in the seventh or sixth century bc, which would correspond to the ancient 
tradition, have been suggested. 


Abbott, N. (1968) 'Gundi Shapur: a preliminary historical sketch', mArs Orientalis 

7: 7i-3- 

Abd al-Husain Zarnnkub (1975) 'The Arab conquest of Iran and its aftermath', in 
CHI iv: 1-56. 

Abkai-Khavari, M. (2000) Das Bild des Konigs in der Sasanidenzeit. Schrifiliche 
Uberlieferungen im Vergleich und Antiquaria. Hildesheim. 

Adontz, N. (1970) Armenia and the Period of Justinian. The Political Conditions Based 
on the Naxara System. Translated with partial revisions by N. G. Garso'ian. 

Alcock, S. E. (ed.) (1997) The Early Roman Empire in the East. Oxford. 

Alfoldi, A. (1937) 'Die Hauptereignisse der Jahre 253-261 n. Chr. im Ori- 
ent im Spiegel der Munzpragung', Berytus 4: 62-3, reprinted in Alfoldi 
(1939) 'The crisis of the Empire (ad 249-270)' in CAH xn: 165-231. 
(1967) Studien zur Geschichte der Weltkrise des 3. Jahrhunderts nach Christus. 

Alfoldi A., Straub, J., and Rosen, K. (eds.) (1964-1991) BHAC (13 vols.). Bonn. 

Alfoldy, G. (1971) 'Cassius Dio und Herodian. Uber die Anfange des Neupersischen 
Reiches', RhM N. F. 114: 360-6. 
(1974) 'The crisis of the third century as seen by contemporaries', GRBS 15: 

Algaze, G. (1989) 'A new frontier: first results of the Tigris-Euphrates Archaeolog- 
ical Reconnaissance Project 1988', JNES 48: 241-81. 

Algaze, G. et al. (1991) 'The Tigris-Euphrates Reconnaissance Project. A Prelimi- 
nary Report of the 1989-1990 Seasons', Anatolica 17: 175-240. 

Alonso-Nunez, J. M. (1988—9) 'The Roman universal historian Pompeius Trogus 
on India, Parthia, Bactria and Armenia, Persica 13: 125-55. 

Alram, M. (1996) 'Die Geschichte Ostirans von den Griechenkonigen in Bak- 
trien und Indien bis zu den iranischen Hunnen', in Weihrauch und Seide, ed. 
W. Seipel. Milan and Vienna: 119-40. 

Al-Salihi, W. (1979) 'Hatra. Aspects of Hatran religion', Sumer 26: 187-93. 

Altheim-Stiehl, R. (1982) 'Die Zeitangaben der mittelpersischen Dipinti in der 
einstigen Synagoge zu Dura-Europos', Boreas 5: 152-9. 


Bibliography 283 

(1985) 'Der Beginn der sasanidischen Reichsherrschaft', in Chronik von Arbela 

ip8y. 13-16. 
(1992) 'The Sasanians in Egypt - Some evidence of historical interest', BSAC 

31: 87-96. 
(1998) 'Egypt IV: relations with Persia in the Sasanian Period', Enclr vm: 

Altheim, F. and Stiehl, R. (1954) Porphyrias and Empedokles. Tubingen. 
(1955-7) 'Mohammeds Geburtsjahr', La Nouvelle Clio 7-9: 113-22. 
(1957) Finanzgeschichte der Spatantike. Frankfurt am Main. 
(1965-7) Die Araber in der Alten Welt. Vol. 11, 1965; vol. iv, 1967. Berlin. 
Ananian, P. (1961) 'La data e le circostanze della consecrazione di S. Gregorio 

Illuminatore', Le Museon 84: 43-73, 317-60. 
Anderson, J. G. C. (1934) 'The eastern frontier from Tiberius to Nero', in CALL x: 

Andreotti, R. (1969) 'Su alcuni problemi del rapporto fra politica di sicurezza e 

controllo del commercio neli'impero romano', RLDA 3 e serie 16: 215-57. 
Angeli Bertinelli, M. G. (1989) Al confine tra l'impero romano e la Persia in eta 

tardoantica: la questione della Lazica', QC N.S. 1: 117-46. 
Antoniadis-Bibicou, H. (1963) Recherches sur les douanes a Byzance. Paris. 
Arce, J. J. (1974) 'On Festus' sources for Julian's Persian expedition', Athenaeum 52: 

Arnaud, P. (1987) 'Les guerres des Parthes et de l'Armenie dans la premiere siecle 

avant n. e.: problemes de chronologie et d'extension territoriale (95 bc - 70 

bc)', Mesopotamia 22: 129-46. 
Ash, Rh. (1999) An exemplary conflict: Tacitus' Parthian battle narrative (Annals 

6. 34-35)', Phoenix 53: 114-35. 
Asmussen, J. P. (1983) 'Christians in Iran', CLLL in. 2: 924-48. 
Assfalg.J. (1966) 'ZurTextiiberlieferung der Chronik von Arbela', OrChr^o: 19-36. 
Atiya, A. S. (1991) A History of Eastern Christianity, 2nd edn. London. 
Austin, N. H. (1972) 'Julian at Ctesiphon: a fresh look at Ammianus' account', 

Athenaeum 50: 301-9. 
Austin, N. J. E. and Rankow, B. (1995) Exploratio, Military and Political Intelligence 

in the Roman World from the Second Punic War to the Battle of Adrianople. 

Azarpay, G. (1981-2) 'Bishapur VI: an artistic record of an Armeno-Persian alliance 

in the fourth century', Artibus Asiae 43: 171-89. 
(1982) 'The role of Mithra in the investiture and triumph of Sapur IF, LrAnt 17: 

Bachrach, B. S. (1973) A History of the Alans in the West. Minneapolis, Minn. 
Back, M. (1978) Die sassanidischen Staatsinschriften. Studien zur Orthographie und 

Phonologie des Mittelpersischen der Lnschriften zusammen mit einem etymolo- 

gischen Lndex des mittelpersischen Wortgutes und einem Textcorpus der behan- 

delten Lnschriften. Actlr 18. Troisieme serie. Textes et Memoires. Leiden. 
Badian, E. (1971) Roman Imperialism in the Late Republic, 2nd edn. Ithaca and New 

York. (German edn. 1980) 

284 Bibliography 

Bagnall, R. S. (2003) Later Roman Egypt: Society, Religion, Economy and Adminis- 
tration. Aldershot, Hampshire et al. 
Bailey, H. W. (1943) Zoroastrian Problems in the Ninth-Century Books. Oxford. 
Bakhit (1987) Proceedings of the Second Symposium on the History of Bilad al-Sham 

during the Early Islamic Period up to 40 AH/640 A. D. Vol. 1. Amman. 
Baldus, H. R. (1971) Uranius Antoninus. Miinzprdgung und Geschichte. Antiquitas 

in 11. Bonn. 
Ball, W. (1989) 'Soundings of Seh Qubba, a Roman frontier station on the Tigris 

in Iraq', in French and Lightfoot (1989): 7-18. 
(2000) Rome in the East. Transformation of an Empire. London et al. 
(ed.) (2003) Ancient Settlement in the Zammar Region. Excavations by the British 

Archaeological Expedition to Iraq in the Sadam Dam Salvage Project, 1985-86. 

BAR International Series 1096. Oxford. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. (1979) Romans and Aliens. London. 
Bandy, A. C. (ed.) (1983a) John Lydus, De Magistratibus Populi Romani, ed. and tr. 

A. C. Bandy. Philadelphia. 
(1983b) On Powers or The Magistracies of the Roman State. Ioannes Lydus with 

introduction, crit. text and translation. Philadelphia. 
Barcel6, P. A. (1981) Roms auswdrtige Beziehungen unterder Constantinischen Dynas- 

tie (306-363). Eichstatter Beitrage 3. Regensburg. 
Bardill, J. (1999) 'The great palace of the Byzantine emperors and the Walker Trust 

Excavations', JRA 12: 216-30. 
Barisic, E (1954) 'Le siege de Constantinople par les Avares et les Slaves en 626', 

Byzantion 24: 371-95. 
Barnes, T D. (1976) 'Imperial Campaigns, ad 285-311', Phoenix 30: 179-86. 

(1980) 'Imperial chronology', Phoenix 34: 163. 

(1981) Constantine and Eusebius. Cambridge. 

(1982) The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine. Cambridge. 
(1985) 'Constantine and the Christians of Persia', JRS 75: 126-36. 

(1998) Ammianus Marcellinus and the Representation of Historical Reality. New 
Basham, A. L. (ed.) (1968) Papers on the Date of Kanishka. Leiden. 
Baynes, N. H. (1904) 'The first campaign of Heraclios against Persia', EHR 19: 
(1910) 'Rome and Armenia in the fourth century', EHR 25: 625-43, reprinted 

in Baynes (1955), 186-208. 
(1912) 'The restoration of the Cross at Jerusalem', EHR 27: 287-99. 
(1955) Rome and Armenia in the Fourth Century. Byzantine Studies and Other 
Essays. London. 
Bedoukian, P. Z. (1980) Coinage of the Ataxiads of Armenia. Royal Numismatic 

Society Special Publication No. 10. London. 
Bellamy, J. A. (1985) A new reading of the Namarah Inscription', Journal of the 

American Oriental Society 105: 31-51. 
Bengtson, H. (1974) Zum Partherfeldzug des Antonius (36 v. Chr). Munich. 
Bering-Staschewski, R. (1981) Romische Zeitgeschichte bei Cassias Dio. Bochum. 

Bibliography 285 

Bier, C. (1993) 'Piety and power', in Official Cult and Popular Religion in the Ancient 
Near East, ed. E. Matsushima. Heidelberg: 172-94. 

Bird, H. W. (1986) 'Eutropius and Festus: Some reflections on the Empire and 
imperial policy in ad 369/370', Florilegium 8: 11—22. 

Birley, A. R. (1971) Septimius Severus. The African Emperor. London. (First pub- 
lished in paperback 1999.) 
(1976) Lives of the Later Caesars. The First Part of the Augustan History 
(Hadrianus - Heliogabalus). London. 

(1987) Marcus Aurelius. A Biography. London. 

(1988) The Afiican Emperor: Septimius Severus. London. 
(1998) Hadrian. The Restless Emperor. 2nd edn. London et al. 

Birley, E. (1956) 'Hadrianic Frontier Policy', in Carnuntia. Ergebnisse der Forschun- 
gen iiber die Grenzprovinzen des romischen Reiches, ed. E. Swoboda. Graz: 

Bivar, A. D. H. (1970) 'Trade between China and the Near East in the Sasanian 

and early Muslim periods', in Pottery and Metalwork in T'ang China, ed. 

W. Watson. London: 1-11. 
(1972) 'Cavalry equipment and tactics on the Euphrates frontier', DOP 26: 

(1983a) 'The history of Eastern Iran', CHL m. 1: 181-231. 
(1983b) 'The Political History of Iran under the Arsacids', in CHL iii.i: 21—99. 
Bivar, A. D. H. and Boyce, M. (1998) 'Estakr I. History and Archaeology. 11: As a 

Zoroastrian religious centre', EncLr vm: 643-6. 
Bleckmann, B. (1992) Die Reichskrise des III. Jahrhunderts in der spatantiken und 

byzantinischen Geschichtsschreibung: Untersuchungen zu den nachdionischen 

Quellen der Chronik des Johannes Zonaras. Quellen und Forschungen zur 

Antiken Welt. Vol. 1. Munich. 
Blockley, R. C. (1973) 'Festus' source on Julian's expedition', CP 68: 54-5. 

(1980) 'Doctors and diplomats in the sixth century ad', Florilegium 2: 89-100. 

(1981) The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire. 
Eunapius, Olympiodorus, Priscus and Malchus. Vol. 1. Liverpool. 

(1983) The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the later Roman Empire. 
Eunapius, Olympiodorus, Priscus and Malchus. Vol. 11: Text, translation and 
historiographical notes. Liverpool. 

(1984) 'The Romano-Persian peace treaties of ad 299 and 363', Florilegium 6: 

(1985a) 'Subsidies and diplomacy: Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity', Phoenix 

39: 62-74. 
(1985b) The History ofMenander the Guardsman. Liverpool. 
(1987) 'The division of Armenia between the Romans and Persians at the end 

of the fourth century ad', Historia 36: 222-34. 

(1989) 'Constantius II and Persia', in Studies in latin Literature and Roman 
History v, ed. C. Deroux. Briissel: 468-89. 

(1992) East Roman Foreign Policy. Formation and Conduct from Diocletian to 
Anastasius. Leeds. 

286 Bibliography 

Blum, G. (1980) 'Zur religionspolitischen Situation der persischen Kirche im 3. 

und 4. Jahrhundert', ZKG 91: 11-32. 
Bobzin, H. (2000) Mohammed. Beck Wissen vol. 2144. Munich. 
Bonamente, G., Duval, N., Paschoud, F. et al. (eds.) (1991) Historiae Augustae 

Colloquia (HAC). Bari. 
Borm, H. (2006) 'Die Persericonig im Imperium Romanum. Chosroes I und der 
sasanidische Einfall in das Ostromische Reich 54on. Chr', Chiron 36: 301-28. 
Bosi, F. (1994) 'The nomads of Eurasia in Strabo', in The Archaeology of the Steppes. 
Methods and Strategies. Papers from the International Symposium held in Naples 
9-12 November 1992, ed. B. Genito. Naples: 109-22. (— Istituto Universitario 
Orientale, Series Minor xliv). 
Bosworth, A. (1976) 'Vespasian's reorganization of the north-east frontier', 
Antichthon 10: 63-78. 
(1977) 'Arrian and the Alani', Harv. St. Class. Ph. 81: 218-29. 
Bosworth, C. E. (1983) 'Iran and the Arabs before Islam', in CHI in. 1: 593—612. 
(1985-7) Arabs and Iran in the pre-Islamic period', Enclr 1985/87: 201-3. 
(1999) The History ofal- Tabari (Ta'rikh al-rusul wa'l miiluk). Vol. v: The Sasanids, 
the Byzantines, the lakmids and Yemen. New York. 
Bounni, A. (ed.) (1996) Palmyra and the Silk Road. International Colloquium. AAAS 

42. Damascus. 
Bounni, A. and Al-As'ad, K. (1988) Palmyra: History, Monuments and Museum. 

Bowersock, G. W. (1973) 'Syria under Vespasian', JRS 43: 123-9. 

(1983) Roman Arabia. Cambridge and London. 
Bowersock, G. W., Brown, P., and Grabar, O. (eds.) (1999) late Antiquity: A Guide 

to the Postclassical World. Cambridge, MA. 
Bowie, E. L. (1999), 'The Greek novel', in Swain 1999: 39—59. 
Boyce, M. (1957) 'The Parthian gosan and the Iranian minstrel tradition', JRAS: 
(1975) A Reader in Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian. Actlr. Teheran- 
(1982) A History ofZoroastrianism. Vol. 11. Leiden. 
(1984a) Zoroastrians. Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd edn. London, 

Boston, Melbourne and Harley. 
(1984b) Textual Sources for the Study ofZoroastrianism. Manchester. 
(1985) Ahura Mazda', Enclr 1: 684-7. 
(1987) Arsacid religion', Enclr 11: 540-1. 
(1994) 'The sedentary Arsacids', IrAnt 29: 241-51. 
Brandt, H. (1998) Geschichte der romischen Kaiserzeit. Von Diokletian und Kon- 

stantin bis zum Ende der Konstantinischen Dynastie (284-363). Berlin. 
Braun, O. (1915) Ausgewahlte Aspekte persischer Mdrtyrer. Mit einem Anhang: Ost- 
syrisches Monchsleben (aus dem Syrischen ubersetzt). BdK. Bd. 22. Kempten 
and Munich. 
Braund, D. (1986) 'The Caucasian frontier: myth, exploration and the dynamics 
of imperialism', in Freeman and Kennedy (1986): 31-49. 

Bibliography 287 

(1989) 'Coping with the Caucasus: Roman responses to local conditions in 
Colchis', in French and Lightfoot (1989): 31-43. 

(1991) 'Procopius on the economy of Lazica', CQ 41: 221-5. 

(1994) Georgia in Antiquity. A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia 550 

BC - AD 562. Oxford. 
Brentjes, B. (1978) Das alte Persien: Die iranische Welt vor Mohammed. Vienna. 
Breuer, St. (1987) Imperien der Alten Welt. Stuttgart et al. 
Brock, S. P. (1978) 'A martyr at the Sasanid court under Vahran II: Candid', 

AnalBolland 96: 167—81. 
(1982) 'Christians in the Sasanian Empire: A case of divided loyalists', in Religion 

and National Identity: Papers Read at the Nineteenth Summer Meeting and the 

Twentieth Winter Meeting of the Ecclesiastical History Society. Studies in Church 

History 18, ed. St. Mews. Oxford: 1-9. 

(1984) Syriac Perspectives on late Antiquity. London. 

(1985) 'The christology of the Church of the East in the synods of the fifth to early 
seventh century', in Aksum-Thyateira: a Festschrift for Archbishop Methodios, 
ed. G. Drogas. London: 125-42. 

(1992) Studies in Syriac Christianity. London. 

(1996) 'The Church of the East in the Sasanian Empire up to the sixth century 
and its absence from the councils in the Roman Empire', in Syriac Dia- 
logue. First Non-Official Consultation on Dialogue within the Syriac Tradition, 
Vienna: 69-85. 

Brocker, M. andNau, H. (eds.) (1997) Ethnozentrismus. Moglichkeiten und Grenzen 
des interkulturellen Dialogs. Darmstadt. 

Brodersen, K. (1986) 'The date of the secession of Parthia from the Seleucid King- 
dom', Historia 35: 378-81. 
(1987) 'Das Steuergesetz von Palmyra', in Palmyra. Geschichte. Kunst und Kultur 
der syrischen Oasenstadt. Katalog, ed. E. Ruprechtsberger. Linz und Frankfurt: 

Brodka, D. (1998) 'Das Bild des Perserkonigs Chosros I. in den "Bella" des Proko- 
pios von Kaisareia, in Studies of Greek and Roman Civilization, ed. J. Styka. 
Krakow: 115-24. 

Brown, P. (1969) 'The diffusion of Manichaeism in the Roman Empire', JRS 59: 
(1971) The World of late Antiquity. London. 

Browning, J. (1979) Palmyra. London. 

Burgess, R. W. (1999) 'The dates of the first siege of Nisibis and the death of James 
of Nisibis', Byzantium 69: 7-17. 

Bury, J. B. (1958) History of the later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius 
I. to the Death of Justinian (395—565). Vol. 11. London. 
(1966) A History of the later Roman Empire from Arcadius to Irene, 395 AD to 800 
AD (2 vols.). London. (Reprint of 1889). 

Butcher, K. (2003) Roman Syria and the Near East. London. 

Biittner-Wobst, T (1978) 'Der Tod Kaiser Julians. Eine Quellenstudie', in Klein 
(1978): 24-47. 

288 Bibliography 

Caetani, L. (ed.) (1909) The Tajarib al-umam or History of IbnMiskawayh. Faksimile 
der Manuskripte der Hagia Sofia. Vol. 1. E. J. W. Gibb Memorial Series vm 
1. Leiden. 
Cameron, A. (1969-70) 'Agathias on the Sasanians', DOP 23-4: 67-183. 
(1970) Agathias. Oxford. 

(1985) Procopius and the Sixth Century. London. 
(1993a) The Later Roman Empire (AD 284-430). London. 
(1993b) The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity, AD 395-600. London. 
( l 995) The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East. States, Resources and Armies. 
Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam. Vol. m. Princeton, New Jersey. 
Cameron, A. and Garnsey, P. (eds.) (1998) The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 

XIII: The Late Empire, AD Hy-425. Cambridge. 
Cameron, A. and Long, J. (1993) Barbarians and Politics at the Court ofArcadius. 

Cameron, A., Ward-Perkins, B., and Whitby, M. (eds.) (2000) The Cambridge 
Ancient History, Volume XIV: Late Antiquity. Empire and Successors, AD 425— 
600. Cambridge. 
Campbell, D. (1986) 'What happened at Hatra? The problems of the Severan siege 

operations', in Freeman and Kennedy (1986): 51-8. 
Campbell, J. B. (1993) 'War and diplomacy: Rome and Parthia, 31 bc-ad 235', in 
War and Society in the Roman World, eds. J. Rich and G. Shipley. London: 
(1999) 'Kataphraktoi', DNP 6: 339. 
Capizzi, C. (1969) L'imperatore Anastasio I (491— 518). Studio sulla sua vita, la sua 

opera e la sua personality. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 184. Rome. 
Carney, T. E (1971) John the Lydian, De Magistratibus. Lawrence, Kansas. 
Carson, R. A. G. (1982) 'The date of the capture of Valerian I', in Actes du pieme 

Congres International de Numismatique. Berne 1979. Vol. 1. Louvain: 461-5. 
Casey, P. J. (1996) 'Justinian, the limitanei, and Arab-Byzantine relations in the 

sixth century', JRA 9: 214—22. 
Casey, R. P. (1998) Armenien I. im Altertum', in RGG I 4 : 763-6. 
Castritius, H. (1968/9) 'Der Armenierkrieg des Maximinus Daia',/fc4C 11/12: 94- 

Charlesworth, M. P. (1970) Trade-Routes and Commerce of the Roman Empire. 2nd 

edn. New York 
Chaumont, M.-L. (i960) 'L'inscription de Kartir a la "Kabah de Zoroastre". Texte, 
Traduction, Commentaire',/^4 248: 339-80. 
(1969) Recherches sur I'histoire dArmenie de I'avenement des sassanides a la conver- 
sion du royaume. Paris. 
(1976) 'L'Arm6nie entre Rome et l'lran. De I'avenement d'Auguste a I'avenement 

de Diocletian', ANRW 11 9.1: 71-194. 
(1979) A propos de la chute de Hatra et du couronnement de Shapur Ier', 

AAntHung 27: 207-37. 
(1984) 'Etudes d'histoire parthe. v. La route royale des Parthes de Zeugma a 
S6leucie du Tigre d'apres l'ltineraire d'Isidore de Charax', Syria 61: 63-107. 

Bibliography 289 

(1986a) Argbed', Enclr 11: 400-1. 

(1986b) 'Les grands rois sassanides d'Armenie', Ir Ant 8: 81-93. 
(1987a) Armenia and Iran II', Enclr 11: 418-38. 
(1987b) Antioch', Enclr 11: 119-25. 

(1990) A propos des premieres interventions parthes en Armenie et des circon- 
stances de l'avenement de Tigrane le Grand', in From Alexander the Great to 
Kill Tegin, ed. J. Harmatta. Budapest: 19-31. 
Christensen, A. (1944) Ulran sous les Sassanides. 2nd edn. Copenhagen. (Reprint 

Osnabriick 1971.) 
Christensen, A. S. (1980) Lactantius the Historian. An Analysis of the 'De Mortibus 

Persecutorum. Copenhagen. 
Christian, D. (1998) A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia. Vol. 1: Inner 

Eurasia font Prehistory to the Mongol Empire. Oxford et al. 
Chronik von Arbela (1985) Die Chronik von Arbela. Translated by P. Kawerau. 

CSCO. Vol. 468. Scriptores Syri. Tom. 200. Louvain. 
Chrysos, E. K. (1976) 'Some aspects of Roman-Persian legal relations', 
KAHRONOMIA 8: 1-60. 

(1978) 'The title BAEIAEYE in early Byzantine international relations', DOP 
32: 29-75. 

(1993) 'Raumung und Aufgabe von Reichsterritorien. Der Vertrag von 363', BJb 

193: 165-202. 
Clauss, M. (1981) 'Der magister officiorum in der Spatantike (4.-6. Jahrhundert). 

Das Amt und sein Einflufi auf die kaiserliche Politik', Vestigia 32: 147. 
Clermont-Ganneau, C. (1898) 'The Taking of Jerusalem by the Persians ad 614', 

Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statement: 36-54. 
Colledge, M. A. R. (1967) The Parthians. London. 
Colvin, I. (2003) Procopius and Agathias on Roman and Sasanian Intervention in 

lazika in the Sixth Century. D. Phil, thesis. Oxford. 
Compareti, M. (2002) 'The Sasanians in Africa, Transoxania 4: 1-6. 
Conduche, D. (1978) Ammianus Marcellinus und der Tod Julians', in Klein (1978): 

Coulston, J. C. (1986) 'Roman, Parthian and Sassanid tactical developments', in 

Freeman and Kennedy (1986): 59-75. 
(1990) 'Later Roman armour, 3rd-6th centuries ad' ', Journal of Roman Military 

Equipment Studies 1: 139-60. 
Cowe, S. P. (1991) 'The significance of the Persian War (571-91) in the Narratio de 

rebus Armeniae', Museon 104: 265-76. 
Craven, L. (1920) Antony's oriental policy until the defeat of the Parthian expedi- 
tion', Social Science Series v 3.2, University of Missouri. Missouri. 
Crawford, M. H. and Reynolds, J. M. (1977) 'The Aezani copy of the Prices Edict, 

ZPE 26: 125-51. 

(1979) 'The Aezani copy of the Prices Edict' ZPE 34: 163-210. 

Creed, J. L. (1984) lactantius. De Mortibus Persecutorum. Edited and Translated. 

Crees, J. H. E. (1965) The Reign of the Emperor Probus. Rome. 

290 Bibliography 

Croke, B. (1984) 'Marcellinus and Dara: a fragment of his lost de temporum quali- 
tatibus et positionibus locorum , Phoenix 38: 86-8. 
(1992) Christian Chronicles and Byzantine History - Fifth-Sixth Centuries. 

(1995) The Chronicle of Marcellinus: Translation and Commentary. Sydney. 

(2001) Comes Marcellinus and his Chronicle. Oxford. 

Croke, B. and Crow, J. (1983) 'Procopius and Dam,JRS 73: 143-59. 

Crone, P. (1991) 'Kavad's heresy and Mazdak's revolt', Iran 29: 21-42. 

Crow, J. (1981) 'Dara, a late Roman fortress in Mesopotamia', Yayla 4: 12-20. 

Crump, G. A. (1975) Ammianus Marcellinus as a Military Historian. Historia 

Einzelschriften 27. Wiesbaden. 
Dabrowa, E. (1980) 'Les limes anatoliens et la frontiere caucasienne au temps des 

Flavians', Klio 62: 382-8. 
(1981) 'Les rapports entre Rome et les parthes sous Vespasien', Syria 58: 187-204. 

(1983) La politique de I'etat parthe a I'egard de Rome. Krakow. 

(1984) Le programme de la politique en Occident des derniers Arsacides, IrAnt 
19: 149-65. 

(1989) 'Roman policy in Transcaucasia from Pompey to Domitian', in French 

and Lightfoot (1989): 77-111. 
(ed.) (1994) The Roman and Byzantine Army in the East. Krakow. 
Daim, E, Kaus, K., and Tomka, P. (eds.) (1996) Reitervblker aus dem Osten. Hun- 
nen und Awaren. Burgenlandische Landesausstellung 1996. Begleitbuch und 
Katalog. Eisenstadt. 
Dani, A. H., Litvinsky, B. A., and Zimmer Zafi, M. H. (1996) 'Eastern Kushans, 
Kidarites in Gandhara and Kashmir, and later Hephthalites', in History of 
Civilizations of Central Asia, vol. in: The Crossroads of civilizations: AD 250 to 
750., ed. B. Litvinsky. Delhi: 163-83. 
Daryaee, T. (1999) 'The coinage of Queen Boran and its significance for late 
Sasanian imperial ideology', Bulletin of the Asia Institute 13: 77-82. 
(2001-2) 'Memory and history: the construction of the past in late antique 
Persia, Name-ye Iran-e Bastan 1-2: 1-14. 

(2002) 'The collapse of the Sasanian power in Fars (Persis)', Name-ye Iran-e 
Bastan 2,1: 3-18. 

(2003) 'The Persian gulf trade in late antiquity' , Journal of World History 14, 1: 

Deberoise, N.C. (1938) A Political History ofParthia. Chicago. 

De Blois, L. (1975) 'Odaenathus and the Roman-Persian War of 252-264 ad', 

TALANTA 6: 7-23. 
(1978-9) 'The reign of the emperor Philip the Arabian', TALANTA 10— n: 

Decret, E (1979) 'Les consequences sur le christianisme en Perse de l'affrontement 

des empires romain et sassanide. De Shapur I er a Yazdgard I er ', Recherches 

Augustiennes 14: 91-152. 
De Decker. D . (1979) 'Sur le destinataire de la lettre au roi des Perses et la conversion 

de l'Arm£nie a la religion chretienne', Persica 8: 99—116. 

Bibliography 291 

de Jong, A. (1997) Traditions of the Magi: Zoroastrianism in Greek and Latin Liter- 
ature. Leiden. 
De Laet, S. J. (1949) Portorium. Brugge. 
De Ligt, L. (1993) Fairs and Markets in the Roman Empire. Economic and Social 

Aspects of Periodic Trade in a Pre-Lndustrial Society. Amsterdam. 
Demandt, A. (1968) 'Studien zur Kaaba-i-Zardoscht', AA 83: 520-40. 

(1989) Die Spdtantike. Romische Geschichte von Diocletian bis Justinian 284-565 

n. Chr. HAW 111 6. Munich. 
(1995) Antike Staatsformen. Eine vergleichende Verfassungsgeschichte der Alten Welt. 

DeMenasce, J. P. (1983) 'Zoroastrian Pahlavi writings', CHI hi. 2: 1187-8. 
Den Boer, W. (1972) Some Minor Roman Historians. Leiden. 
Dennis, G. T. (1981) Maurice, Strategikon. Vienna. 

(1985) Three Byzantine Military Treatises: Text, Translation and Notes. 

Washington, D.C. 
Dennis, G. T and Gamillscheg, E. (1981) Das Strategikon des Maurikios. CFHB 17. 

Derakhshani, J. (1995) Die Zeit Zarathustras. Rekonstruktion der altiranischen 

Chronologic Geschichte und Kultur des Alten Ostiran 1 1. Teheran. 
De Ste. Croix, G. E. M. (1991) The Class Struggle in the Ancient World. 2nd edn. 

Devos, P. (1966) 'Les Martyrs persans a traveurs leurs actes syriaques', in Atti de 

Convegno sul tema: La Persia e il mondo graeco-romano (Roma n-14 aprile 

1965). Rome: 213-42. 
Devreesse, R. (1943) Arabes-Perses et Arabes-Romains. Lakhmides et Ghassanides', 

RevBibl 51: 263-307. 
Diebler, S. (1995) 'Les hommes du roi: sur la representation souveraine dans les 

relations diplomatiques entre Byzance et les Sassanides d'apres les historiens 

byzantines du sixieme siecle', Stir 24: 187-217. 
Dihle, A. (1994) Die Griechen und die Fremden. Munich. 
Dijkstra, K. (1990) 'State and steppe. The socio-political implications of Hatra 

Inscription j 9 , Journal of Semitic Studies 35: 81-98. 
Dillemann, L. (19 61) Ammien Marcellin et les pays de l'Euphrate et du Tigre', 

Syria 38: 87-157. 
(1962), Haute Mesopotamie orientale et pays adjacents. Paris. 
Dixon, K. R. and Southern, P. (1992) The Roman Cavalry. 2nd edn. London. 
Dobbins, K. W. (1974) 'Mithridates II and his successors: A study of the Parthian 

crisis 90-70 bc', Antichthon 8: 63-79. 
Doblhofer, E. (1955) Byzantinische Diplomaten und ostliche Barbaren. Aus 

den Excerpta de legationibus des Konstantinos Porphyrogennetos ausgewdhlte 

Abschnitte des Priskos und Menander Protektor. Ubersetzt, eingeleitet und 

erklart von E. Doblhofer, 2nd edn. Graz. 
Dodgeon, M. H. and Lieu, S. N. C. (eds.) (1991) The Roman Eastern Frontier and 

the Persian Wars (AD 226-563). A Documentary History. London - New York. 

(Reprint 2002.) 

292 Bibliography 

Doise, J. (1945) 'Le partage de FArm6nie sous Theodose Ier', REA 47: 274-7. 
Dolger, F. (1964) 'Die "Familie der Konige" im Mittelalter', in Byzanz und die 
europdische Staatenwelt. Ausgewdhlte Vortrdge und Aufsdtze, ed. F. Dolger. 
Darmstadt: 34-69. 
Donner, F. M. (1981) The Early Islamic Conquests. Princeton. 

(1995) 'Centralized authority and military autonomy in the early Islamic con- 
quests', in Cameron (1995): 337-60. 
(2005) 'The background to Islam', in Maas (2005): 510-533. 
Dorries, H. (1954) Das Selbstzeugnis Kaiser Konstantins. Abhandlung der Akademie 
der Wissenschaften Gottingen. Philologisch-Historische Klasse, 3. Folge, Nr. 
34. Gottingen. 
Downey, G. (1950) Aurelian's victory over Zenobia at Immae, ad 272', TAPhA 81: 
(1953) 'The Persian campaign in Syria in ad 540', Speculum 28: 340-8. 
(1961) A History ofAntioch in Syria. From Seleucus to the Arab Conquest. Princeton, 

New Jersey. (3rd edn. Princeton 1974.) 
(1963) Ancient Antioch. Princeton, New Jersey. 
Dreher, M. (1996) 'Pompeius und die kaukasischen Volker', Historia 45: 188-207. 
Dressel, H. (1973) Die romischen Medaillone des Miinzkabinetts der staatlichen 

Museen zu Berlin. Bearbeitet von K. Regling, Textband. Zurich. 
Drexhage, R. (1982) 'Der Handel Palmyras in romischer Zeit', MBAH 1: 17—34. 
(1983) Die 'Expositio totius mundi et gentium'. Eine Handelsgeographie aus dem 
4. Jahrhundert n. Chr., eingeleitet, iibersetzt und mit einfuhrender Literatur 
(Kap. XXII-LXVII) versehen. MBAH 2.1: 3-41. 
(1988) Untersuchungen zum romischen Osthandel. Bonn. 
Drijvers, J. W. (1976) The Religion of Palmyra. Leiden. 

(1977) 'Hatra, Palmyra, Edessa. Die Stadte der syrisch-mesopotamischen Wtiste 
in politischer, kulturgeschichtlicher und religionsgeschichtlicher Beleuch- 
tung', ANRW 11 8: 799-906. 
(1980) Cults and Beliefs at Edessa. EPRO Tome 82. Leiden. 
(1994) 'The Syriac romance of Julian. Its function, place of origin and orig- 
inal language', in VI. Symposium Syriacum 1992, ed. R. Lavenant. Rome: 

(1998) 'Strabo on Parthia and the Parthians', in Wiesehofer (1998a): 279-93. 

(1999) Ammianus Marcellinus' image of Arsaces and early Parthian History' in 
Drijvers and Hunt (1999): 193-206. 

Drijvers, J. W. and Hunt, D. (eds.) (1999) The late Roman World and its Historian. 

Interpreting Ammianus Marcellinus. London and New York. 
Driven, L. (1999) The Palmyrenes of Dura Europos. A Study of Religious Interaction 

in Roman Syria. Leiden. 
Duchesne-Guillemin, J. (1964) la religion de llran ancien. Paris. 

(1983) 'Zoroastrian Religion', CHI in. 2: 866-908. 
Duneau, J. F. (1966) 'Quelques aspects de la penetration de l'hellenisme dans 

l'empire perse sassanide (IV e -VII e siecles)', in Melanges offerts a R. Grozet, 

Poitiers: 13—22. 

Bibliography 293 

Eadie, J. W. (1967a) The Breviarium of Festus. A Critical Edition with Historical 

Commentary. London. 
(1967b) 'The development of Roman mailed cavalry', JRS 57: 161-73. 
(1985) 'Artifacts of annexation: Trajan's grand strategy and Arabia', in The Craft 

of the Ancient Historian: Essays in Honour of Ch. G. Starr, eds. J. W. Eadie and 

J. Obers. Lanham, Md.: 407-23. 
(1989) 'Strategies of economic development in the Roman East: The Red Sea 

trade revisited', in French and Lightfoot (1989): 113-20. 
(1996) 'The transformation of the eastern frontier 260-305', in Shifting Fron- 
tiers in Late Antiquity, eds. R. W. Mathisen and H. S. Sivan. Aldershot and 

Hampshire: 72—82. 
Eggermont, P. H. L. (1968) 'The Historia Philippica of Pompeius Trogus and the 

foundation of the Scythian empire', in Basham (1968): 97-102. 
Ehling, K. (1996) 'Der Ausgang des Perserfeldzuges in der Miinzpropaganda des 

Jovian', Klio 78: 186-91. 
Ehrhardt, N. (1998) 'Parther und parthische Geschichte bei Tacitus', in Wiesehofer 

(1998a): 295-307. 
Enderlein, V. and Sundermann, W. (eds.) (1988) Schahname. Das Persische 

Kbnigsbuch. Miniaturen und Texte der Berliner Handschrift von 160$. Leipzig 

und Weimar. 
Endrefi, G. (1997) Der Islam. Eine Einfuhrung in seine Geschichte. 3rd edn. Munich. 
Enoki, K. (1955) 'The origin of the White Huns or Hephtalites', E & W vi. 1: 

Ensslin, W (1936) 'Zu dem vermuteten Perserfeldzug des rex Hannibalianus', Klio 

29: 102-10. 
(1939) 'Sassanid Persia: (vi) The wars with Rome', CAH xii: 126-37. 
(1942) Zur Ostpolitik des Kaisers Diokletian. SBAW. Ph.-h. Kl. 1942/1. Munich. 
Equini Schneider, E. (1993) Septimia Zenobia Sebaste. Rome. 
Erdmann, K. (1941) Das iranische Feuerheiligtum. Leipzig. 
Evans, J. A. S. (1996) The Age of Justinian: Circumstances of Imperial Power. London 

and New York. 
Ezov, A. (2000) 'Reconnaissance and intelligence in the Roman art of war writing 

in the imperial period', in Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History. Coll. 

Latomus 254, ed. C. Deroux. Brussels: 299-317. 
Felix, W (1985) Antike literarische Quellen zur Aufsenpolitik des Sasanidenstaates. 

Vol. 1. Veroffentlichung der Iranischen Komission Nr. 18. Sb. der Osterr. Ak. 

d. Wiss. Ph.-h. Kl. Bd. 456. Vienna: 224-309. 
Fevrier, J. G. (1931) Essai sur I'histoire politique et economique de Palmyre. Paris. 
Fiey, J. M. (1987) 'The last Byzantine campaign into Persia and its influence on 

the attitude of the local populations towards the Muslim conquerors 7-16 

H./628-636 ad', in Bakhit (1987): 96-103. 
Fiorani Piacentini, V. (1985) Ardashir i Papakan and the wars against the Arabs: a 

working hypothesis on the Sasanian hold of the Gulf, PSAS 15: 57-77. 
Flusin, B. (1992) Saint Anastase le Perse et I'histoire de la Palestine au debut du VII 

siecle. Vol. 11. Paris. 

294 Bibliography 

Fornara, C. W. (1991) 'Julian's Persian expedition in Ammianus and Zosimos,JHS 

III: 1— 15. 
Foss, C. (1975) 'The Persians in Asia Minor and the end of Antiquity', EHR 90: 
721-47, reprinted in Foss (1990). 
(1990) History and Archaeology of Byzantine Asia Minor. Aldershot. 
(1997) 'Syria in Transition, ad 550-750: An archaeological approach, DOP 51: 

(2003) 'The Persians in the Roman Near East', /./MS 13: 149-70. 
Fowden, G. (1993) Empire to Commonwealth. Consequences of Monotheism in Late 
Antiquity. Princeton, New Jersey. 

(1994) 'The last days of Constantine: oppositional versions and their influence', 
JRS 84: 146-70. 

Frank, T (ed.) (1940) An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome IV. Roman Afiica, Roman 

Syria, Roman Greece, Roman Asia. Baltimore. 
Freeman, P. (1994) 'Pompey's eastern settlement: a matter of presentation?', in 

Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History VII. Collection Latomus 227, 

ed. C. Deroux. Brussels: 143-79. 
Freeman, P. and Kennedy, D. (eds.) (1986) The Defense of the Roman and Byzantine 

East. BAR International Series 297. Oxford. 
Freis, H. (1994) Historische Inschriften zur romischen Kaiserzeit von Augustus bis 

Konstantin. 2nd edn. Darmstadt. 
French, D. H. and Lightfoot, C. S. (eds.) (1989) The Eastern Frontier of the Roman 

Empire. Proceedings of a Colloquium Held at Ankara in September 1988. BAR 

International Series 553. Oxford. 
Frend, W. H. C. (1979) The Rise of the Monophysite Movement. Cambridge. 
Frendo, J. D. (1975) Agathias. The Histories. Translated with an Introduction and 

Short Explanatory Notes. CFHB 11 A. Berlin and New York. 
(1985) 'The territorial ambitions of Chosroes II: an Armenian view?', Florilegium 

7- 30-6. 
(1989) 'Theophylact Simocatta on the revolt of Bahram Cobin and the early 

career of Khusrau II', Bulletin of the Iranian Institute, N.S. 3: 77-88. 
(1992) 'Sasanian irredentism and foundation of Constantinople: historical truth 

and historical reality', Bulletin of the Asia Institute 6: 59-68. 

( 1 995) 'The early exploits and final overthrow of Khusrau II (591-628): panegyric 
and vilification in the last Byzantine Iranian conflict', Bulletin of the Asia 
Institute 9: 209-14. 

Frezouls, E. (ed.) (1976) Palmyre. Bilan et perspectives. Colloque de Strasbourg ipyj. 

Frezouls, E. and Jacquemin, A. (eds.) (1995) Les relations Internationales. Actes du 

Colloque de Strasbourg 15.-17. 6. 199}. Paris. 
Frye, R. N. (1972) 'Byzantine and Sasanian trade relations with northeastern 
Russia', DOP 26: 265-96. 
(1977) 'The Sassanian system of walls for defense', in Studies in Memory of Gaston 

Wiet, ed. M. Rosen-Ayalon. Jerusalem: 7-15. 
(1983a) 'The political history of Iran under the Sasanians', CHI m. 1: 116-80. 

Bibliography 295 

(1983b) 'Bahrain under the Sasanians', in Dilmun: New Studies in the Archaeology 
and Early History of Bahrain, ed. D. T. Potts. Berlin: 167-70. 

(1983c) 'Achaemenid echoes in Sasanian times', in Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte 
der Achdmenidenzeit undihrFortleben. Archaologische Mitteilungen aus Iran. 
Erg. Band 19, eds. H. Koch and D. N. Mackenzie. Berlin: 247-52. 

(1984) The History of Ancient Iran. HAW m 7. Munich. 

(2000) 'Parthian and Sasanian history of Iran', in Mesopotamia and Iran in 
the Parthian and Sasanian Periods: Rejection and Revival c. 238 BC-AD 642. 
Proceedings of a Seminar in Memory ofV. G. lukanin, ed. J. Curtis. London: 

Fuchs, H. (1964) Der geistige Widerstand gegen Rom in der antiken Welt. 2nd edn. 

Fuhrmann, M. (1977) 'Die Monchsgeschichte des Hieronymus', Entretiens sur 
I'antiquite classique 23. Geneva: 41-89. 

Fukai, S. (1972) Taq-i-Bustan TV: Text. The Tokyo University Iraq-Iran Archaeo- 
logical Expedition, Report 20. Tokyo. 

Fukai, S. and Horiuchi, K. (1962-72) Taq-i-Bustan I— II: Plates. The Tokyo Uni- 
versity Iraq-Iran Archaeological Expedition, Report 10. 13. Tokyo. 

Funke, P. (1996) 'Die syrisch-mesopotamische Staatenwelt in vorislamischer Zeit. 
Zu den arabischen Macht- und Staatenbildungen an der Peripherie der 
antiken Grofimachte im Hellenismus und in der romischen Kaiserzeit', in 
Beitrage zur Erforschung von Akkulturation und politischer Ordnung in den 
Staaten des hellenistischen Zeitalters. Akten des Internationalen Hellenismus- 
Kolloquiums 9.-14. Mdrz 1994 in Berlin, ed. B. Funck. Tubingen: 217-38. 

Gaj6, J. (1965) 'Comment Sapor a-t-il "triomph6" de Valenen?', Syria 42: 343-88. 

Gall, H. v. (1980) 'Relieffragment eines elymaischen Konigs aus Masged-e 
Soleiman', IrAnt 15: 241—50. 
(1990) Das Reiterkampfbild in der iranischen und iranisch beeinfluften Kunst 
parthischer und sasanidischer Zeit. Teheraner Forschungen. Berlin. 

Garsoian, N. G. (1967) 'Politique ou orthodoxie? LArmenie au IVe siecle', REtArm 
4: 297-320, reprinted in Garsoian (1985): 297-320. 
(1971) Armenia in the fourth century. An attempt to redefine the concepts 

"Armenia" and "loyalty"', REtArm 8: 342—52. 
(1973-4) Le role de l'hi6rarchie chr£tienne dans les rapports diplomatiques entre 

Byzance et les Sassanides', REtArm 10: 119-37. 
(1983) 'Byzantium and the Sasanians', CHI m. 1: 568-92. 

(1985) Armenia between Byzantium and Sasanians. London. 

(1989) The Epic Histories attributed to P'awastos Bazandac'i. Cambridge. 
(1997a) 'The Arsakuni dynasty (ad 12-428)', in Hovannisian (1997) 63-94 

(revised edition New York 2004) . 
(1997b) 'The Marzparnate (428-652)', in Hovannisian (1997): 95-116 (revised 
edn. New York 2004). 
Garucci, R. (1870) 'Brass medallion, representing the Persian victory of Maximi- 

anus Galerius', NC 10: 112-18. 
Gaube, H. (1982) 'Mazdak: historical reality or invention?', Stir 11:111—22. 

296 Bibliography 

Gaudemet, J. (1970) 'Le concept d'imperium dans l'Histoire Auguste', BHAC 

1968/69. Antiquitas iv 7. Bonn: 91-7. 
Gauger, J.-D. (1998) Sibyllinische Weissagungen. Griechisch-Deutsch. Neuiibersetzt 

und herausgegeben. Diisseldorf et al. 
Gawlikowski, M. (1973) Le temple palmyrenien. Etude d'epigraphie et de topographie 

historique. Palmyre vi. Warsaw. 
(1985) 'Les princes de Palmyre', Syria 62: 251-61. 

(1990) 'Les dieux de Palmyre', ANRW 11 18.4: 2605-77. 

(1994) A fortress in Mesopotamia: Hatra, in Dabrowa (1994): 47-56. 
Gero, S. (1981) Barsauma ofNisibis and Persian Christianity in the Fifth Century. 

CSCO 426. Louvain. 
Ghirshman, R. (1948) Les Chionites-Hephtalites. Memoires de la delegation 

archeologique francaise en Afghanistan. Vol. xiii. Cairo. 
(1954) Iran from the Earliest Times to the Islamic Conquest. Harmondsworth. 
(1956-71) Bichapour 1-11. Paris. 
(1962) Iran: Parthians and Sassanians. London. 
(1965) A propos l'ecriture cuneiforme vieux-perse',//VES 24: 248-9. 
Gignoux, Ph. (1983) 'Die religiose Administration in sasanidischer Zeit: Ein 

Uberblick, in Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte der Achdmenidenzeit und ihr 

Fortleben. AMI. Erg. Bd. 10, eds. H. Koch and D. N. MacKenzie. Berlin: 

(1984a) 'Church-state relations in the Sasanian Period', Bulletin of the Middle 

Eastern Culture Centre in Japan 1: 72-80. 
(1984b) 'L'organisation administrative sasanide: Le cas du marzban', JSAI 4: 

(1987) Anerah, Enclr 11: 30-1. 
(1991a) 'DAbnun a Mahan. Etude de deux inscriptions sassanides', StLr 20: 

(1991b) Les quatres inscriptions du mage Kirder. Textes et concordances. Cahier de 

Studia Iranica 9. Leuven. 
Gilliam, J. E (1941) 'The Dux Ripae at Dura, TAPhA 72:157-75. 
Girardet, K. M. (1998) 'Die Konstantinische Wende und ihre Bedeutung fur 

das Reich. Althistorische Uberlegungen zu den geistigen Grundlagen der 

Religionspolitik Konstantins d. Gr.', in Die Konstantinische Wende, ed. E. 

Muhlenberg. Giitersloh: 9—122. 
Gnoli, Gh. (1985) 'The Quadripartition of the Sassanian Empire', E. & W. N. S. 

35: 265-70. 
(1987) 'Basileus basileon Arianon, in Orientali L Tucci Memoriae Dicata. Vol. 11. 

Serie Orientale Roma LVI 2, eds. Gh. Gnoli and L. Lanciotti. Rome: 509-32. 
(1989) The Idea of Iran. An Essay on its Origin. Serie Orientale Roma lxii. Rome. 

(1991) 'L'inscription de Sabur a la Ka'be-ye Zardost et la propaganda sassanide', in 
Histoire et cubes de TAsie Centrale preislamique, eds. P. Bernard and E Grenet. 
Paris: 57-63. 

(1993) Iran als religioser Begriffim Mazdaismus. Rheinisch-Westfaliche Akademie 
der Wissenschaften: Geisteswissenschaften; G 320. Opladen. 

Bibliography 297 

Gobi, R. (1974) Der Triumph des Sdsaniden Sapuhr iiber die Kaiser Gordianus, Philip- 
pus und Valerianus. Die ikonographische Interpretation der Felsreliefs. Vienna. 

Golden, P. B. (1990) 'The peoples of the South Russian steppes', in The Cambridge 
Ancient History of Early Inner Asia, ed. D. Sinor. Cambridge: 256—84. 

(1992) An Introduction to the History of the Turkic People. Ethnogenesis and State- 
Formation in Medieval and early Modern Eurasia and the Middle East. Turco- 
logica vol. ix. Wiesbaden. 

Goldman, B. (1989) 'The imperial jewel at Taq-i Bustan', Archaeologia Iranica 

et Orientalis. Miscellanea in honorem I. Vanden Berghe, eds. E. Meyer and 

E. Haerinck. Gent: 831—46. 
Goubert, P. (1949) 'Les rapports de Khosrau II, roi des rois sassanide, avec 

1'empereur Maurice', Byzantion 19: 81-98. 
(1951) Byzance avant I'lslam. Vol. I: Byzance et I'orient sous les successeurs de Jus- 

tinien, 1'empereur Maurice. Paris. 
Graf, D. E (1978) 'The Saracens and the defense of the Arab frontier', BASOR 229: 

(1989) 'Rome and the Saracens: Reassessing the nomadic Menace', in LArabie 

preislamique et son environment historique et culturel, ed. T Fahd. Leiden: 

Grancsay, S. V. (1963) 'A Sasanian chieftain's helmet', The Metropolitan Museum of 

Art Bulletin 21: 253-62. 
Gray, E. W. (1973) 'The Roman eastern limes from Constantine to Justinian - 

perspectives and problems', Proc. African Class. Ass. 12: 24-40. 
Greatrex, G. (1984) Procopius and the Persian Wars. Oxford. 

(1993) 'The two fifth-century wars between Rome and Persia', Florilegium 12: 

(1998) Rome and Persia at War: $02—^2. Leeds. 

(2000) 'The background and aftermath of the partition of Armenia in ad 387', 

AHB 14. 1-2: 35-48. 
(2005) 'Byzantium and the East in the sixth century', in Maas (2005): 477-509. 
Greatrex, G. and Bardill, J. (1996) Antiochos the Praepositus: a Persian eunuch at 

the court of Theodosius II', in DOP 50: 171-97. 
Greatrex, G. and Lieu, S. N. C. (2002) The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian 
Wars. Part II AD 363 — 630. A Narrative Sourcebook. London and New York. 
Greenwood, T (forthcoming) Armenian neighbours (600-1045)', in The Cam- 
bridge History of the Byzantine Empire, ed. J. Shepherd. Cambridge, in press. 
Gregory, S. E. (1997) Roman Military Architecture on the Eastern Frontier. 3 vols. 

Grenet, E (1990) 'Observations sur les titres de Kirdir', Stir 19: 87-94. 
Gricourt, J. (1965) Alexandre Severe "Parthicus Maximus"?', in Congresso Interna- 
tionale di Numismatica 11.-16. Settembre 1961. Vol. 11. Rome: 319-26. 
Grignaschi, M. (1966) 'Quelques specimens de la litterature sassanide conserves 
dans les bibliotheques d'lstanbul', JA 254: 1-142. 
(1971) 'La riforma tributaria di Hosro I e il feudalismo Sassanide', in Persia 
(1971): 87-147. 

298 Bibliography 

Gropp, G. (1977) 'Die Festung Derbent zwischen Hunnen und Sasaniden', ZDMG 

Suppl. in. 19. Dt. Orientalistentag 1975: 1619-25. 
Gruen, E. S. (1984) The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome. 2 vols. Berkeley. 
Grumel, V. (1967) 'La reposition de la Vraie Croix a Jerusalem par Heraclius: Le 

jour et l'annee', in Polychordia: Festschrift Franz Dolger. ByzF '2: 139-49. 
Guey, J. (1961) 'Autour des Res Gestae Divi Saporis. 1. Deniers (d'or) et deniers 

d'or (decompte) anciens', Syria 38: 261-75. 
Guidi, I. (ed. and trans.) (1903) ChronicumAnonymum, CSCO Scr. Syr. 1-2. Leipzig. 
Guillaumont, A. (1969-70) 'Justinien et l'eglise de Perse', DOP 24-5: 41-66. 
Giiterbock, K. (1906) Byzanz und Persien in ihren diplomatisch-volkerrechtlichen 

Beziehungen im Zeitalter Iustinians. Fin Beitragzur Geschichte des Volkerrechts. 

Gutmann, B. (1991) Studien zur romischen Aufenpolitik in der Spdtantike (264—395 

n. Chr). Bonn. 
Guyot, P. and Klein, R. (1994) Dasfruhe Christentum bis zum Ende der Verfolgung. 

Vol. 11: Die Christen in der heidnischen Gesellschaft. Darmstadt. 
Hage, W. (1973) 'Die ostromische Staatskirche und die Christenheit des Perser- 

reiches', ZKG 84: 174-87. 
Halfmann, H. (1986) 'Die Alanen und die romische Ostpolitik unter Vespasian, 

FA 8: 39-50. 
Hall, E. (1989) Inventing the Barbarian. Greek Self Definition through Tragedy. 

Hamblin, W. (1986) 'Sasanian military science and its transmission to the Arabs', in 

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, Proceedings of the 1986 International 

Conference on Middle Eastern Studies. Oxford: 99-106. 
Hamilton, F. J. and Brooks, E. W. (trans.) (1899) The Syriac Chronicle Known as 

that ofZachariah ofMytilene. London. Reprinted 1979. 
Hardy, E. R. (1929) 'New light on the Persian occupation of Egypt', Journal of the 

Society of Oriental Research 13: 185-9. 
Harmatta, J. (1974) The Struggle for the Possession of South Arabia between Aksum 

and the Sasanians. Actes du IVe congres international des etudes ethiopiennes 

{Rome 1972). Rome. 
(1975) 'Der ostliche Hintergrund der Partherkriege unter Marcus Aurelius', 

in Eirene: Actes de la Xlle conference internationale d' etudes classiques 1972. 

Amsterdam: 445-7. 
(1979) Studies in the Sources on the History ofPre-Islamic Central Asia. Budapest. 
(1997) 'The origin of the Huns', Acta Classica Universitatis Scientiarum Debrece- 

niensis 33: 159-73. 
(2000) 'The struggle for the "silk route" between Iran, Byzantium and the Turk 

Empire from 560 to 630 ad', in Kontakte zwischen Iran, Byzanz und der Steppe 

im 6.-7. Jh., ed. C. S. Balint. Budapest: 249-52. 
Harper, P. (1983) 'Sasanian silver', CHI 111.2: 1113-29. 
Harris, W. V. (1979) War and Imperialism in Republican Rome 327-70 BC Oxford 

(reprinted 1991 with a new preface and updated bibliography). 
Hartmann, U. (2001) Das palmyrenische Teilreich. Berlin. 

Bibliography 299 

(2002a) 'Geist im Exil. Rdmische Philosopher! am Hof der Sasaniden', in 

Grenziiberschreitungen. Formen des Kontakts zwischen Orient und Okzident im 

Altertum, eds. M. Schuol, U. Hartmann, and A. Luther. Stuttgart: 123-60. 
(2002b) 'Griechische Philosophen in der Verbannung', in Gelehrte in derAntike. 

A. Demandt zum 65. Geburtstag, eds. A. Goltz, A. Luther and H. Schlange- 

Schoningen. Cologne et al.: 58-86. 
Hauser, St. R. (1998) 'Hatra und das Konigreich der Araber', in Wiesehofer (1998a): 

(2000) 'Ecological limits and political frontiers, The "Kingdom of the Arabs" in 

the eastern Jazira in the Arsacid period' , in Landscapes, Territories, Frontiers and 

Horizons in the Ancient Near East. Vol. 11: Geography and Cultural Landscapes, 

eds. L. Milano et al. Padova: 187-200. 
(2001a) 'Orientalism', DNP 15/1: 1233-43. 
(2001b) 'Greek in subject and style, but a little distorted. Zum Verhaltnis von 

Orient und Okzident in der Altertumswissenschaft', in Posthumanistische 

klassische Archdologie. Historizitdt der Wissenschafilichkeit von Interessen und 

Methoden, eds. S. Altekamp et al. Munich: 83-104. 
Haussig, H.-W. (1959) Kulturgeschichte von Byzanz. Stuttgart (published in English 

(1971) A History of Byzantine Civilization. London). 
(1966) Awaren, Shuan-Shuan und Hephtaliten', in Geschichte Mittelasiens. 

HdOr 1,5,5, e< ls. K. Jettmar et al. Leiden: 106-22. 
(1983) Die Geschichte Zentralasiens und der Seidenstrafse in vorislamischer Zeit. 

Heather, J. P. (1998) 'Jaths and Huns, c. 320-425', in CAH xm: 487-515. 
Heichelheim, F. M. (1944) 'Supply bases for Caracalla's Parthian campaign', CP 

39.2: 113-15. 
Heiler, F. (1971) Die Ostkirchen. Munich et al. 
Helm, R. (1932) 'Untersuchungen iiber den auswartigen diplomatischen Verkehr 

des romischen Reiches im Zeitalter der Spatantike', Archiv fur Urkunden- 

forschung 12: 375-436. (Now Olshausen, E. (ed.) (1979) Antike Diplomatic 

Darmstadt: 321-408.) 
Henning, W. B. (1958) 'Mitteliranisch', in HdO I 4.1: 96. 
Herrmann, A. (1966) A Historical Atlas of China. Amsterdam. 
Herrmann, A. and von Soden, W. (1959) 'Dolmetscher', RAC 4: 24-49. 
Herrmann, G. (1980) The Sasanian Rock Relief at Bishapur L: Bishapur ILL, Triumph 

attributed to Shapur L. Iranische Denkmaler. Reihe III. Lieferung 9. Berlin. 
(2000) 'The rock reliefs of Sasanian Iran', in Mesopotamia and Lran in the Parthian 

and Sasanian Periods: Rejection and Revival c. 238 BC—AD 642. Proceedings of 

a Seminar in Memory ofV. G Lukanin, ed. J. Curtis. London: 35-45. 
Herrmann, G., MacKenzie, D. N., and Howell, R. (eds.) (1989) The Sasanian Rock 

Reliefs at Naqsh-i Rustam 6. The Triumph of Shapur. Representation of Kerdir 

and Inscription. Iranische Denkmaler. Reihe II. Lieferung 13. Berlin. 
Hersh, C. A. (1980) 'The coinage of Quintus Labienus Parthicus', Schweiz. Numis- 

mat. Rundschau 59: 41-5. 
Herzfeld, E. (1948) Geschichte der Stadt Samara. Hamburg. 

300 Bibliography 

Hewsen, R. H. (1978-79) 'The successors of Tiridates the Great: a contribution to 
the history of Armenia in the fourth century', KEtArm 13: 99—126. 
(1992) The Geography of Ananias ofSirak (ASXARHAC'OYC). The Long and 

the short Recensions. Introduction, Translation and Commentary. Wiesbaden. 
(2001) Armenia. A Historical Atlas. London. 
Higgins, M.J. (1939) The Persian War of the Emperor Maurice (582-602). Parti: The 
Chronology, with a Brief History of the Persian Calendar. Washington, D.C. 
(1941) 'International relations at the close of the sixth century', CHR 27: 279-315. 
(1955) 'Chosroes lis votive offerings at Sergiopolis', ByzZ 48: 89-102. 
Hillman, T. P. (1996) 'Pompeius ad Parthos?', Klio 78: 380-99. 
Hinds, M. (1984) 'The first Arab conquests in Fars', Iran 22: 39-55. 
Hinz, W. (1969) Altiranische Funde und Forschungen. Berlin: pi. 76-7. 97. 

(1971) 'Mani and Karder', in Persia (1971): 485-99. 
Hoffmann, J. G. E. (1880) Iulianos der Abtriinnige. Syrische Erzdhlungen. Leiden. 
Hohl, E. (ed.) (1976-85) Historia Augusta. Romische Herrschergestalten. 2 vols. 

Holt, F. L. (1999). Thundering Zeus. The Making of Hellenistic Bactria. Los Angeles 

and London. 
Holum, K. G. (1982) Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late 
Antiquity. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London. 
(1992) Archaeological evidence for the fall of Byzantine Caesarea, BASOR 286: 

Honigmann, E. (1935) Die Ostgrenze des Byzantinischen Reiches von 363 bis ioji nach 

griechischen, arabischen, syrischen und armenischen Quellen. Brussels. 
Hovannisian, R. G. (ed.) (1997) The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern 

Times. Vol. 1. The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century. 

Basingstoke, London and New York (revised edn. New York 2004). 
Howard-Johnston, J. J. (1989) 'Procopius. Roman defences north of the Taurus 

and the new fortress of Citharizon', in French and Lightfoot (1989): 203-28. 
(1994) 'The official history of Heraclius' Persian campaigns', in Dabrowa (1994): 

(1995a) 'The siege of Constantinople in 626', in Constantinople and its Hinter- 
land, eds. C. Mango and G. Dagron. Aldershot: 131-42. 
(1995b) 'The two great powers in late antiquity. A comparison', in Cameron 

(1995): 157-226. 
(1999) 'Heraclius' Persian campaigns and the revival of the Eastern Roman 

Empire 622-630', War in History 6: 1—44. 
(2006) East Rome, Sasanian Persia and the End of Antiquity: Historiographical 

and Historical Studies. Aldershot. 
Howard-Johnston, J. J. and Thomson, R. W. (1999) The Armenian History 

attributed to Sebeos. Liverpool. 
Hoyland, R. (1997) Seeing Islam as Others Saw It. A Survey and Evaluation of 

Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam. Princeton. 
Humbach, H. (1984) A Western approach to Zarathustra, Journal of the K. R. 

Cama Oriental Institute 51: 15—32. 

Bibliography 301 

Humbach, H. and Skjaervo, P. O. (1983) The Sassanian Inscription ofPaikuli. Part 

3.1: restored text and translation. Wiesbaden. 
Humphrey, J. H. (1995-9) The Roman and Byzantine Near East. 2vols. Portsmouth, 

Hunger, H. (1978) Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur der Byzantiner. HAW 12.5. 

2 vols. Munich. 
Hunt, D. (1998) 'The Successors of Constantine', CAH xm: 11-14, 39—43, 73-7 • 
Hunter, R. (ed.) (1998) Studies in Heliodorus. Cambridge. 
Huskinson, J. and Sandwell, I. (eds.) (2004) Culture and Society in Later Antioch. 

Papers from a Colloquium, London, iph December 2001. Oxford. 
Hutter, M. (1988) Mani und die Sasaniden. Innsbruck. 

(1992) 'Manichaismus oder Zoroastrismus. Das Ringen zwischen Mani und 

Kirdir um die Staatsreligion', in Akten des Melzer-Symposiums 1991, eds. 

W. Slaje and C. Zinko. Graz: 152-69. 
Huyse, Ph. (1998) 'Kerdir and the first Sasanians', in Proceedings of the Third 

European Conference of Iranian Studies {Cambridge, nth to iph September 

1995), ed. N. Sims-Williams. Wiesbaden: 109-20. 
(1999) Die dreisprachige Lnschrift Sdbuhrs I. an der Ka'ba-i Zardust (SKZ) . 2 vols. 

Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum III 1. London. 
(2002) 'La revendication de territoires achemenides par les Sassanides: Une 

realite historique?', in Lran: Questions et connaissances. Actes du LVe congres 

europeen des etudes iraniennes, organise par la Societas Lraniologica Europaea, 

Paris, 6-10 Septembre 1999, vol. 1: La periode ancienne. Textes reunis par Ph. 

Huyse. StLr 25. Paris: 297-311. 
Inostrancev; C. A. (1926) 'The Sasanian military theory. Translated by 

L. Bogdonov' , Journal of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute 7: 7-25. 
Isaac, B. (1989) 'Luttwak's "Grand Strategy" and the eastern frontier of the Roman 

Empire', in French and Lightfoot (1989): 231—4. 

(1992) The Limits of Empire. The Roman Army in the East. 2nd edn. Oxford. 

(1993) An open frontier', in Frontieres d'empire. Nature et signification des 
frontieres romaines, eds. P. Brun, S. van der Heeuw, Ch. R. Whittaker. 
Nemours: 105-14 (now in B. Isaac, The Near East Under Roman Rule. Selected 
Papers. Mnemosyne Suppl. 177, 1998: 403-26). 

(1995) 'The army in the late Roman East: the Persian Wars and the defence of 

the Byzantine provinces', in Cameron (1995): 125-55. 
James, S. (1985) 'Dura-Europos and the chronology of Syria in the 250s ad', Chiron 

15: 111-24. 
Jandora, J. W (1986) 'Developments in Islamic warfare: the early Islamic conquests', 

Studia Islamica 64: 101-13. 
Jeffreys, E. etal. (eds.) (1986) The Chronicle of John Malalas. Byzantina Australiensia 

4. Melbourne. 
Jeffreys, E., Croke, B., and Scott, R. (eds.) (1990) Studies in John Malalas. Sydney. 
Johne, K.-P. (1998) 'Historia Augusta', in DNP v: 639-40. 
Jones, A. H. M. (1964) The Later Roman Empire 284-602. A Social, Economic and 

Administrative Survey. Vol. 11. Oxford. 

302 Bibliography 

Kaegi, W. E. (1981a) 'Constantine's and Julian's strategies of strategic surprise against 
the Persians', Athenaeum 69: 209-13. 
(1981b) Byzantine Military Unrest 4/1-48}. An Interpretation. Amsterdam. 
(1982) Army, Society and Religion in Byzantium. London. 
(1992) Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquest. Cambridge. 
(2003) Heraclius: Emperor of Byzantium. Cambridge et al. 
Kaim, B. (2004) 'Ancient fire temples in the light of the discovery at Mele Hairam', 

IrAnt 39: 323-37. 
Kaizer, T. (2000) 'Some remarks about the religious life of Hatra', Topoi 10: 229-52. 

(2002) The Religious life of Palmyra. Oriens et Occidens vol. iv. Stuttgart. 
Karayannopulos, J. (1958) Das Finanzwesen des friihbyzantinischen Staates. Munich. 
Karras-Klapproth, M. (1988) Prosopographische Studien zur Geschichte des Parther- 

reiches aufder Grundlage antiker literarischer Uberlieferung. Bonn. 
Kawar, I. (1956) 'The Arabs in the peace treaty of ad 561', Arabica 3: 181-213. 
(1957-8) 'Ghassan and Byzantium: A new terminus a quo', Der Islam 33: 232-55. 
( x 959) The Patriciate of Arethas', ByzZ 52: 321-43. 
Keaveney, A. (1981) 'Roman treaties with Parthia, circa 95 - circa 64 bc', AJPh 102: 

(1982) 'The king and the war-lords: Roman-Parthian relations circa 64-53 BC > 
AJPh 103: 412-28. 

Keitel, E. (1978) 'The role of Parthia and Armenia in Tacitus' Annals n and 12', 

AJPh 99: 462-73. 
Kennedy, D. and Northedge, A. (1988) 'The history of Ana, classical sources', in 

Excavations at Ana, ed. A. Northedge. Warminster: 6-8. 
Kennedy, D. and Riley, D. (1990) Rome's Desert Frontier from the Air. London. 
Kennedy, D. L. (1982) Archaeological Explorations on the Roman Frontier in North- 

East Jordan. Oxford. 

(1983) 'The frontier policy of Septimius Severus. New evidence from Arabia', in 
Mitchell (1983): 876-88. 

(1986) ' "European soldiers" and the Severan siege of Hatra', in Freeman and 
Kennedy (1986): 397-410. 

(1987) 'The garrisoning of Mesopotamia in the Late Antonine and Early Severan 
period', Antichthon 21: 57-66. 

(1989) 'The military contribution of Syria to the Roman imperial army', in 
French and Lightfoot (1989): 235-46. 

(1990) 'The East', in The Roman World, ed. J. Wacher. London: 266-308. 
(1996a) 'Parthia and Rome: eastern perspectives', in Kennedy (1996c): 67-90. 
(1996b) 'Syria, in CAH x. 2: 703-36. 

(1996c) The Roman Army in the East. Ann Arbor (JRA Suppl. Ser.). 
Kennedy, H. (1992) Antioch: from Byzantium to Islam and back again', in The 

City in late Antiquity, ed. J. Rich. London: 181-98. 
Kent, R. G. (1953) Old Persian Grammar Texts Lexicon. 2nd edn. New Haven. 
Kerler, G. (1970) Die Aussenpolitik in der Historia Augusta. Bonn. 
Kessler, K. (1980) Untersuchungen zur historischen Topographie Nordmesopotamiens. 

Bibliography 303 

Kettenhofen, E. (1982) Die romisch-persischen Kriege des 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. 
Nach der Inschrift Sahpurs I. an der Ka'be-ye Zartost [SKZ]. Beiheft TAVO B 
55. Wiesbaden. 

(1983) 'The Persian campaign of Gordian III and the inscription of Sapuhr I at 
the 'Ka be-ye Zartost', in Mitchell (1983): 151-71. 

(1984) 'Die Einordnung des Achamenidenerbes durch Ardaslr. Eine interpretatio 
romana', OLP 15: 177-90. 

(1986) 'Zur Siegestitulatur Kaiser Aurelians', Tyche 1: 138-46. 

(1994a) 'Einige Uberlegungen zur sasanidischen Politik gegeniiber Rom im 3. 

Jh. n. Chr.', in Dabrowa (1994): 99—108. 
(1994b) 'Deportations 11. In the Parthian and Sasanian period', Enclr 7: 297- 

(1995a) 'Die Eroberung von Nisibis und Karrhai durch die Sasaniden in der Zeit 

Kaiser Maximins (235/36 n. Chr.)', IrAnt 30: 159—77. 
(1995b) 'Die Chronik von Arbela in der Sicht der Althistorie', Simblos 1: 287—319. 
(1995c) Tirdad und die Inschrift von Paikuli. Kritik der Quellen zur Geschichte 

Armeniens im spaten 3. undfriihen 4. Jh. n. Chr. Wiesbaden. 
(1996a) 'Dvin', Enclr 7: 616—19. 
(1996b) 'Darband', Enclr 7: 13-19. 

(1998) 'Die Arsakiden in armenischen Quellen', in Wiesehofer (1998): 325—53. 
Kienast, D. (1990) Romische Kaisertabelle. Grundzuge einer romischen Kaiser- 

chronologie. Darmstadt. 
Kirsten, E. (1959) 'Edessa', RAC 4: 552-98. 

(1963) 'Edessa. Eine romische Grenzstadt des 4. bis 6. Jahrhunderts im Orient', 
JbAC 6: 144-72. 
Kissel, Th. (1998) 'Konstanten der Infrastruktur - Historische Wegekonti- 
nuitat im nordsyrisch-obermesopotamischen Kulturraum am Beispiel der 
Flufiiibergange am Mittleren Euphrat', in Religion - Wirtschaft - Technik. 
Althistorische Beitrage zur Entstehung neuer kultureller Strukturmuster im his- 
torischen Raum. Nordafrika/Kleinasien/Syrien. Mainzer Althistorische Studien 
vol. 1, ed. L. Schuhmacher. St. Katharinen: 147-78. 
Klein, R. (1977) Constantius II. und die christliche Kirche. Darmstadt, 
(ed.) (1978) Julian Apostata. WdF vol. 509. Darmstadt. 

(1997) 'Galerius', in Die romischen Kaiser. 55 historische Portrdts von Caesar bis 
Iustinian, ed. M. Clauss. Munich: 278-82. 
Klima, O. (1957) Mazdak. Geschichte einer sozialen Bewegung im sassanidischen 
Persien. Prague. 
(1977) Beitrage zur Geschichte des Mazdakismus. Prague. 
Klimkeit, H.-J. (1990) Die Seidenstrafte, 2nd edn. Cologne. 
Koch, H. (1992) Es kiindet Dareios der Kbnig . . . Vom leben im persischen Groftreich. 

Mainz am Rhein. 
Koder, J. (1997) Thema', IMA 8: 615-16. 

Kolb, F. (1987a) Diocletian und die erste Tetrarchie. Untersuchungen zur antiken 
Literatur und Geschichte 27. Berlin. 
(1987b) Untersuchungen zur Historia Augusta. Antiquitas 4, 20. Bonn. 

304 Bibliography 

(1988) ' L'ideologia tetrarchica e la politica religiosa di Diocleziano', in IChristiani 
e I'impero nelTV secolo. Colloquio sul Christianesimo nel mondo antico, eds. 
G. Bonamente and A. Nestori. Macerata: 17-44. 
(1995) 'Chronologie und Ideologie der Tetrarchie', AntTard 3: 27-31. 
Kollautz, A. (1985) 'Das militarwissenschaftliche Werk des sog. Maurikios', Byzan- 

tiaka 5: 87-136. 
Kondoleon, Ch. (ed.) (2000) Antioch. The Lost Ancient City. Princeton. 
Konrad, M. (1999) 'Research on the Roman and early Byzantine frontier in North 

Syria', JRA 12: 392-410. 
Kornemann, E. (1947) Grofe Frauen des Altertums. 3rd edn. Wiesbaden. 
Korner, Ch. (2002) Philippus Arabs. Ein Soldatenkaiser in der Tradition des 
antoninisch-severischen Prinzipats. Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und 
Geschichte vol. 61. Berlin. 
Kramers, J. H. (1935-7) 'The military colonization of the Caucasus and Armenia 

under the Sassanids', BSOS 8: 613-18. 
Kraus, Th. (1967) Propyliien Kunstgeschichte. Vol. 11: Das rbmische Weltreich. Mit 

Beitragen von Andreae et. al. Berlin. 
Kreucher, G. (2003) Der Kaiser Marcus Aurelius Probus und seine Zeit. Historia 

Einzelschriften 174. Wiesbaden. 
Kuhnen, H.-P. (1999) 'Limes VII', DNPj. Siidlicher Vorderer Orient: 220-3. 
Kulesza, R. (1994) 'Persian deportations - Greeks in Persia', EOS 82: 221-50. 
Lang, D. M. (1962) A Modern History of Georgia. London. 
(1966) The Georgians. London. 

(1983) 'Iran, Armenia und Georgia, CHI in. 1: 505-36. 
Laubscher, H. P. (1975) Der Reliefschmuck des Galeriusbogens in Thessaloniki. Berlin. 
Lee, A. D. (1986) 'Embassies as evidence for the movement of military intelligence 
between the Roman and Sasanian Empire', in Freeman and Kennedy (1986): 
(1987) 'Dating a fifth century war in Theodoret', Byzantion 57: 188-91. 
(1989) 'Campaign preparations in late Roman-Persian warfare', in French and 

Lightfoot (1989): 257-65. 
(1991) 'The role of hostages in Roman diplomacy with Sasanian Persia', Historia 

40: 366-74. 
(1993a) Informations and Frontiers. Roman Foreign Relations in Late Antiquity. 

(1993b) 'Evagrius, Paul of Nisibis and the problem of loyalties in the mid-sixth 
century', in Journal of Ecclesiastical History 44: 569-85. 
Lenssen, J. (1999) 'The Persian invasion of 359: presentation by suppression in 
Ammianus Marcellinus' Res Gestae 18. 4.1 - 18.6.7', m Drijvers and Hunt 
(1999): 40-50. 
Lepper, E A. (1948) Trajan's Parthian War. Oxford. 

Leppin, H. (1996) Von Constantin dem Grofsen zu Theodosius II: Das christliche 
Kaisertum bei den Kirchenhistorikern Socrates, Sozomenus und Theodoret. 
Hypomnemata no. Gottingen. 

Bibliography 305 

Lerner, J. D. (1996) 'Seleucid decline over the eastern Iranian plateau', Berytus 42: 
(1999) The Impact of Seleucid Decline on the Eastern Plateau. The Foundations of 
Arsacid Parthia and Graeco-Bactria. Historia Einzelschriften 123. Stuttgart. 
Levy, R. (1996) The Epic of the Kings: Shahnama, the National Epic of Persia/Ferdowsi. 

2nd edn. Costa Mesa, Calif. 
Lewis, N. and Reinhold, M. (1955) Roman Civilization. Selected Readings Edited 

with an Introduction. 2 vols. New York. 
Liebeschiitz, J. H. W. G. (1972) Antioch. City and Administration in the Later Roman 
Empire. Oxford. 
(1977) 'The defense of Syria in the sixth century', in Studien zu den Militargrenzen 

Roms II, ed. C. B. Ruger. Cologne: 487-99. 
(1990) Barbarians and Bishops. Oxford. 
Liebmann-Frankfort, Th. (1969a) Lafrontiere orientale dans la politique exterieure 
de la republique Romaine depuis la traite d' Apamee jusqu'a la fin des conquetes 
asiatiques dePompee (189/8—63). Academie royale de Belgique. Classe des lettres 
et sciences morales et politiques. Mem. 59. Brussels. 
(1969b) 'L'histoire des Parthes dans le livre xli de Trogue Pompee: Essai 
d'identification de ses sources', Latomus 28: 894-922. 
Lieu, S. N. C. (1986) 'Captives, refugees and exiles: A study of cross-frontier civilian 
movements and contacts between Rome and Persia from Valerian to Jovian', 
in Freeman and Kennedy (1986): 475-505. 
(1992) Manichaeism in the Later Roman Empire and Medieval China. 2nd edn. 

Manchester and Tubingen. 
(1994) Manichaeism in Mesopotamia and the Roman East. Leiden. 
Lightfoot, C. S. (1983) 'The site of Roman Bezabde', in Armies and Frontiers in 
Roman and Byzantine Anatolia, ed. St. Mitchell. Oxford: 189—204. 
(1986) 'Tille - A late Roman equites fort on the Tigris', in Freeman and Kennedy 
(1986): 509-29- 

(1988) 'Facts and fiction - The third siege of Nisibis', Historia 37.1: 105-25. 

(1989) 'Sapor before the walls of Amida', in French and Lightfoot (1989): 285-94. 

(1990) 'Trajan's Parthian war and the fourth-century perspective', JRS 80: 115-26. 
Lippold, A. (1974) 'Hephthalitai', RE S 14: 127-37. 

Litvinsky, B. A. (1996) 'The Hephthalite Empire', in History of Civilizations of 

Central Asia. Vol. in: The Crossroads of Civilizations: AD 250 to 750, ed. B. A. 

Litvinsky. Paris: 135—62. 
Loewe, M. (1971) 'Spices and silk. Aspects of world trade in the first seven centuries 

of the Christian eta,JRAS: 166-79. 
Lopez, R. S. (1945) 'Silk industry in the Byzantine Empire', Speculum 20: 1—42. 
Lordkipanidse, O. and Brakmann, H. (1994) 'Iberia 11', RAC 129: 12-106. 
Luther, A. (1997) DieSyrische Chronikdesjosua Stylites. Untersuchungen zur antiken 

Literatur und Geschichte. Vol. 49. Berlin. 
(2004) 'Der politische Status der Region am mittleren Euphrat im 2. Jh. n. 

Chr. und die Organisation des palmyrenischen Fernhandels', in Commerce 

306 Bibliography 

and Monetary System in the Ancient World: Means of Transmission and Cultural 

Interaction, eds. R. Rollinger and Chr. Ulf. Stuttgart: 327-51. 
Luttwak, E. N. (1976) The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First 

Century A. D. to the Third. Baltimore. 
Maas, M. (ed.) (2005) The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. 

MacDermot, B. C. (1954) 'Roman emperors in the Sassanian reliefs', JRS 44: 76-80. 
MacDonald, D. J. (1979) 'The genesis of the res gestae Saporis', Berytus 27. 77-83. 

(1981) 'The death of Gordian III - another tradition', Historia 30: 502-8. 
(1986) 'Dating the fall of Dura-Europos', Historia 35: 45-68. 

MacKenzie, D. N. (1979) 'Mani's Sabuhragan', BSOAS 42: 500-34. 

(1982) 'Rezension zu M. Back (1978)', IF 87: 285. 

(1989) 'Kerdir's inscription: synoptic text in transliteration, transcription, trans- 
lation and commentary', in Herrmann, MacKenzie and Howell (1989): 35—72. 

Mackintosh, M. C. (1973) 'Roman influences on the victory- relief of Shapur I of 

Persia, California Studies in Classical Antiquity 6: 181-203. 
MacMullen, R. (1976) Roman Government's Response to Crisis A.D. 235—33/. New 

(1980) 'How big was the Roman army?', Klio 62: 451-60. 
Macomber, W. (1968) 'The authority of the catholikos patriarch of Seleucia- 

Ctesiphon', in I patriarcati orientali nel primo millennio. Relazioni del con- 

gresso tenutosi al Pontificio Istituto Orientale nei giorni 27-30 Dicembre 1967. 

Orientalia Christiana Analecta 181. Rome: 179-200. 
Maenchen-Helfen, O. J. (1973) The World of the Huns: Studies in their History and 

Culture, ed. M. Knight. Berkeley. 
(1978) Die Welt der Hunnen. Vienna. 
Magie, D. (1919) 'Roman policy in Armenia and Transcaucasia and its significance', 

Annual Report of the American Historical Association: 297-304. 
(1921-32) The Scriptores Historiae Augustae vol. I— III. London and Cambridge, 

Mahe, A. and Mah6, J. -P. (1993) Moise de Khorene. Histoire de LArmenie. Nouvelle 

traduction del'armenien classique par A. et J. -P. Mahe (d'apres Victoire langlois) 

avec une introduction et des notes. Paris. 
Mah6t, J. -P. and Thomson, R. W. (eds.) (1997) From Byzantium to Iran: Armenian 

Studies in Honour ofN. G. Garsoian. Atlanta. 
Malitz, J. (1984) 'Caesars Partherkrieg', Historia 33: 21-59. 
Manandian, H. A. (1965) The Trade and Cities of Armenia in Relation to Ancient 

World Trade. Translated by N. G. Garsoian. Lisbon. 
Mango, C. (1985) 'Deux emdes sur Byzance et la Perse sassanide', TravMem 9: 


(1990) Nikephoros, Patriarch of Constantinople: Short History, Text, Translation, 
and Commentary. Dumbarton Oaks Papers x. CFHB xm. Washington D.C. 

Mango, C. and Scott, R. (1997) The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor. Byzan- 
tine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813. Translated with Introduction . 
Commentary. With the assistance of G. Greatrex. Oxford. 

Bibliography 307 

Maricq, A. (1955) 'Hatra de Sanatrouq', Syria 32: 273-88. 

Maricq, A. and Honigmann, E. (1953) Recherches sur les Res Gestae Divi Saporis. 

Academie royale de Belgique. Classe de lettres et des sciences morales et politiques 

47.4. Bulletin epigraphique 1953 [254]. Brussels. 
Maroth, M. (1979) 'Le siege de Nisibe en 350 ap. J.-Chr. d'apres des sources 

syriennes', AAS 27: 239—43. 
Marquart, J. (1901) Eranshahr nach der Geographie des Ps. Moses Xorenac'i. Berlin. 
Marshall, B. A. (1976) Crassus. A Political Biography. Amsterdam. 
Masia, K. (2000) 'The evolution of swords and daggers in the Sasanian Empire', 

Iranica Antiqua 35: 185-9. 
Matthews, J. F. (1984) 'The tax law of Palmyra: evidence for economic history in 

a city of the Roman East', JRS 74: 157-80. 
(1986) Ammianus and the eastern frontier in the fourth century: a participant's 

view', in Freemann and Kennedy (1986): 549-64. 
(1989a) The Roman Empire of Ammianus. London. 
(1989b) 'Hostages, philosophers, pilgrims, and the diffusion of ideas in the late 

Roman Mediterranean and Near East', in Tradition and Innovation in Late 

Antiquity, eds. F. M. Clover and R. S. Humphreys, Madison: 29-49. 
Mattingly, H. (1936) 'The Palmyrene Princes and the Mints of Antioch and 

Alexandria. NC 16: 95. 102. 109. 
Mayerson, P. (1989) 'Saracens and Romans: micro-macro relationship', BASOR 

274: 71-9. 
Mazzarino, S. (1971) 'L'Anonymus post Dionem e la "topica" delle guerre romano- 

persiane 242/4 d. C. - 283/(4?) d. C, in Persia (1971): 655-78. 
McCullough, W. S. (1982) A Short History ofSyriac Christianity to the Rise of Islam. 

Chico, CA. 
McGeer, E. (1995) Showing the Dragon's Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth 

Century. Washington, D.C. 
Meier, M. (2003) Das andere Zeitalter Justinians: Kontigenzerfahrung und Konti- 

genzbewaltigung im 6. Jahrhundert n. Chr. Hypomnemata 147. Gottingen. 
Merten, E. W. (1968) Zwei Herrscherfeste in der Historia Augusta. Untersuchun- 

gen zu den pompae der Kaiser Gallienus und Aurelianus. Antiquitas iv 5. 

Metzler, D. (1982) Ziele und Formen koniglicher Innenpolitik im vorislamischen Iran. 

(1991) 'Kommagene von Osten her gesehen', in Studien zum antiken Kleinasien. 

F. K. Dorner zum So. Geburtstaggewidmet. Asia Minor Studien 3. Bonn: 21—7. 

(reprinted in J. Wagner (ed.) (2000) Gottkonige am Euphrat. Neue Ausgrabun- 

gen und Forschungen in Kommagene. Mainz am Rhein: 51-5). 
(1992/3) 'Rezension von E. Hall, Inventing the barbarian. Greek self-definition 

through tragedy', Hephaistos n/12: 215-23. 
Meyer, H. (1980) 'Die Frieszyklen am sogenannten Triumphbogen des Galerius in 

Thessaloniki. Kriegschronik und Ankiindigung der zweiten Tetrarchie',/ZM7 

95: 374-444- 
Meyer, M. (1990) 'Die Felsbilder Shapurs \\JDAI 105: 237-302. 

308 Bibliography 

Michalak, M. (1987) 'The origins and development of Sassanian heavy cavalry, 

Folia Orientalia 24: 73-86. 
Michalowski, K. and Gawlikowski, M. (1966-85) Etudes Palmyreniennes 1-8. 

Mielczarek, M. (1993) Cataphractari and Clibanarii. Studies in the Heavy Armoured 

Cavalry of the Ancient World. Lodz. 
Millar, F. (1971) 'Paul of Samosata, Zenobia and Aurelian: the church culture and 

political allegiance in third century Syria', JRS 61: 1-17. 
(1993) The Roman Near East. Cambridge. 

(1996) The Roman Near East 31 B.C. - A.D. $}j. 3rd edn. Cambridge and 

(1998a) 'Caravan cities: the Roman Near East and long-distance trade by land', 
in Modus Operandi: Essays in Honour of G. Rickman, eds. M. Austin et al. 
London: 119-37. 
(1998b) 'Dura-Europos under Parthian rule', in Wiesehofer (1998a): 473-92. 
(2006) Rome, the Greek World and the East. Vol. in: The Greek World, the Jews 
and the East. Eds. H. M. Colton and G. H. Rogers. Chapel Hill. 
Miller, D. A. (1971) 'Byzantine treaties and treaty-making 500-1025 ad', Byzanti- 

noslavica 32: 56-76. 
Miller, J. I. (1969) The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire 29 B.C. to A.D. 641. Oxford. 
Minorsky, V. (1943-6) 'Roman and Byzantine campaigns in Atropatene', BSOAS 

11: 243-65. 
Mitchell, S. (2006) A History of the Later Roman Empire AD 284—641. The Trans- 
formation of the Ancient World. Blackwell. 
Mitchell, St. (ed.) (1983) Armies and Frontiers in Roman and Byzantine Anatolia: 
Proceedings of a Colloquium Held at University College Swansea 1981. BAR 
International Series 156. Oxford. 
(1993) Anatolia. Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor. Vol. 1 The Celts in Anatolia 
and the Impact of Roman Rule. Oxford. 
Mohl, J. (1838-55) Le livre des Rois L-VLL Paris. 
Morony, M. G. (1984) Iraq after the Muslim Conquest, Princeton, NJ. 
(1987) 'Syria under the Persians, 610-629', in Bakhit (1987): 87-95. 
(1990) 'Bet Lapat', Enclr rv: 187-8. 

(1997) 'Sasanids', El ix: 70-83. 

(2001-2) 'The late Sasanian economic impact on the Arabian Peninsula, Name- 

ye Iran-e BastanlThe International Journal of Ancient Iranian Studies 1: 25-37. 
(2004) 'Economic Boundaries? Late Antiquity and Early Islam', Journal of the 

Economic and Social History of the Orient 47 .2: 184-8. 
Mosig-Walburg, K. (1982) Die friihen sasanidischen Konige als Vertreter und Forderer 

der zarathustrischen Religion. Frankfurt am Main. 
(1999) 'Zur Schlacht bei Singara', Historia 48: 330-84. 
(2002) 'Zur Westpolitik Shapurs II', in Iran: Question et connaissance. Vol. 1: La 

periode ancienne. Textes reunnis par Ph. Huyse. Stir. Cahier 25. Paris: 329-47. 
Mukherjee, B. N. (1969) 'Ta-hsia and the problem concerning the advent of 

nomadic peoples in Greek Bactria', E & W 19: 395-400. 

Bibliography 309 

Miiller, C. D. G. (1969) 'Stellung und Bedeutung des Katholikos-Patriarchen von 

Seleukeia-Ktesiphon im Altertum', OrChr 53: 227-45. 
(1981) Geschichte der orientalischen Nationalkirchen. Die Kirche in ihrer Geschichte. 

Ein Handbuch. Bd. 1, Lieferung D2, Gottingen. 
Miiller, F. L. (1996) Herodian. Geschichte des Kaisertums nach Marc Aurel. Griechisch 

unddeutsch mit Einleitung, Anmerkungen und Namenindex versehen. Stuttgart. 
Miiller, W. W. (1991) 'Himyar', RAC 15: 303-31. 
Munro-Hay, S. C. (1991) Aksum. An African Civilisation of Late Antiquity. 

Nakamura, B. (1993) 'Palmyra and the Roman East', GRBS 34: 133-50. 
Narain, A. K. (1987) 'The Saka Haumavarga and the Amyrgoi: The problem of 

their identity', Bulletin of the Asia Institute, New Series 1: 27-31. 
(1990) 'Indo-Europeans in Inner Asia', in The Cambridge History of Early Inner 

Asia, ed. D. Sinor. Cambridge: 151-76. 
Negin, A. N. (1995) 'Sarmatian cataphracts as prototypes for Roman equites cat- 

aphractarii', Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies 6: 65-75. 
Neusner, J. (1965-70) A History of the Jews in Babylonia. Vols. i-v. Leiden. 
Nicholson, O. (1983) 'Taq-i Bostan, Mithras and Julian Apostate: An irony', IrAnt 

Nicolle, D. (1996) Sassanian Armies. The Iranian Empire, early 3rd to mid yth 

Centuries AD. Stockport. 
Nigosian, S. (1978) 'Zoroastrianism in 5th century Armenia, Studies in Religion 7: 

Noldeke, Th. (1874) 'Uber den syrischen Roman von Kaiser Iulian', ZDMG 28: 

(1878) 'Geschichte des Ardachsir i Papakan, aus dem Pehlewi iibersetzt, mit 
Erlauterungen und einer Einleitung versehen', in Beitrage zur Kunde der 
indogermanischen Sprachen 4: 22-69. 

(1879) Geschichte der Perser undAraber zur Zeit der Sasaniden. Aus der arabischen 
Chronik des Tabari iibersetzt und mit ausfuhrlichen Erlauterungen versehen. 

(1887a) Aufsdtze zur persischen Geschichte. Leipzig. 

(1887b) Die ghassanischen Fursten aus dem Hause Gafna's. Abh. der Kgl. Akad. 

der Wissenschaften. Ph.-h. Kl. 2. Berlin. 
(1892) Persische Studien II. Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der 

Wissenschaften. Ph.-h. Kl. Vol. 126. Abh. 12. Vienna. 
(1920) Das Iranische Nationalepos. 2nd edn. Berlin and Leipzig. 
North, J. A. (1981) 'The development of Roman imperialism',/^ 71: 1—9. 
Nyberg, H. S. (1959) 'Die sassanidische Westgrenze und ihre Verteidigung', in 

Septentrionalia et Orientalia. FS B. Kargren. Stockholm: 316-26. 
Oates, D. (1955) A note on the three inscriptions from Hatra', Sumer n: 39-44. 

(1968) Studies in the Ancient History of Northern Iraq. London. 
O'Connor, C. (1993) Roman Bridges. Cambridge. 

Oded, B. (1979) Mass Deportations and Deportees in the Neo-Assyrian Empire. 

310 Bibliography 

Oelsner, J. (1996) 'Adiabene', DNP 1: 112. 

Oikonomides, N. (1971) 'Correspondence between Heraclius and Kavadh-Siroe in 

the Paschale Chronicle (628)', Byzantion 41: 269-81. 
(1976) 'A chronological note on the first Persian campaign of Heraclius (622)', 

BMGS 2: 1-9. 
Olbrycht, M.J. (1998) Parthia et ultiores gentes. Die politischen Beziehungen zwischen 

dem arsakidischen Iran und den Nomaden der eurasischen Steppen. Munich. 
(2003) 'Parthia and nomads of Central Asia. Elements of steppe origin in the 

social and military developments of Arsacid Iran', in Militdr und Staatlichkeit. 

Mitteilungen des SFB 'Differenz und Integration 5, ed. I. Schneider. Orient- 

wissenschaftliche Hefte 12. Halle: 69—103. 
Olshausen, E. (1997) 'Deportationen zu Anfang der Auseinandersetzungen zwis- 
chen Griechen und Persern, Orbis Terrarum 3: 101-7. 
Oost, S. I. (1958) 'The death of the Emperor Gordian III', CP 53: 106-7. 
Ostrogorsky, G. (1963) 'Geschichte des Byzantinischen Staates'. HAW xn 1.2. 

(1965) Geschichte des byzantinischen Staates. Munich. 
Overlaet, B. J. (1982) 'Contribution to Sasanian armament in connection with a 

decorated helmet', IrAnt 17: 189-206. 
(1989) 'Swords of the Sasanians, notes on scabbard tips', in Archaeologia Iranica 

et Orientalis. Miscellanea in honorem I. Vanden Berghe, eds. L. De Meyer and 

E. Haerinck. Ghent: 741-55. 
Palmer, A., Brock, S., and Hoyland, R. (1993) The Seventh Century in West-Syrian 

Chronicles. Liverpool. 
Panitschek, P. (1990) 'Zur Darstellung der Alexander- und Achaemenidennach- 

folge als politisches Programm in kaiserzeitlichen Quellen', Klio 72: 

Parker, S. T. (1986a) 'Retrospective on the Arabian frontier after a decade of 

research', in Freeman and Kennedy (1986): 633-60. 
(1986b) Romans and Saracens. A History of the Arabian Frontier. Winona Lake, 

(1997) 'Geography and strategy on the southeastern frontier in the late Roman 

period', in Roman Frontier Studies ipp^. Proceedings of the XVII. International 

Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, ed. W. Groenman-Wateringe. Oxford: 

Paschoud, E (1971-89) Zosime. Histoire nouvelle. Tom. 1— in. Texte etabli et traduit 

par E Paschoud. Paris. 
Paterson, W. E (1969) 'The Sassanids' , Journal of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries 

12: 29-32. 
Pattenden, P. (1983) 'The Byzantine early warning system', Byzantion 53: 258-99. 
Paul, K. (1983) Von Nero bis Konstantin dem Grossen. Politische und soziale Aspekte 

einer kirchengeschichtlichen Wende. Frankfurt. 
Peacock, D. P. S. (1994) 'Rome and India', JRA 7: 457-8. 
Peck, E. H. (1969) 'The representations of costumes in the reliefs of Taq-i Bustan', 

Artibus Asiae 31: 101—46. 

Bibliography 311 

Peeters, P. (1924) 'Demtaianus eveque d'Antioche?', AnalBolland 42: 288-314. 
(1925) 'Le Passionaire d'Adiabene', AnalBolland 43: 261-304. 
(1931) 'L'intervention politique de Constance II dans la Grande Armenie en 338', 

BAB 5.17: 10-47 (reprinted in Subsidia Hagiographica 27, 1951, 222—50). 

(1947) 'Les ex-voto de Khosrau Aparwez a Sergiopolis , AnalBolland 6y.'$-'$6. 

Pekary, Th. (1961) Autour des Res Gestae Divi Saporis. 2. Le "tribut" aux Perses et 

les finances de Philippe FArabe', Syria 38: 275-83. 
Pellat, Ch. (1971) Amr ibn Adi, Elm 2 : 450. 
Persia (1971) = Atti del convegno internazionale sul tenia: La Persia nel medioevo 

(Roma 31 marzo- 5 aprile 1970). Academia Nazional dei Lincei. Quaderno N. 

160. Rome. 
Pieler, P. (1972) 'L'aspect politique et juridique de Fadoption de Chosroes proposee 

par les Perses a Justin, RIDA 3,19: 399-433. 
Pigulevskaja, N. (1969) Byzanz aufden Wegen nach Indien. Aus der Geschichte des 

byzantinischen Handels mit dem Orient vom 4. bis 6. Jahrhundert. Revised 

German edition. Berlin. 
Pink, K. (1931) 'Die Goldpragung des Diocletianus und seiner Mitregenten (284 

bis 305)', NZ 64. N. F. 24: 3. 47. 50. 
Pohl, W. (1988) Die Awaren. Ein Steppenvolk in Mitteleuropa $67-822 n. Chr. 

Pohlsander, H. A. (1980) 'Philip the Arab and Christianity', Historia 29: 464-5. 
Pollard, N. (2000) Soldiers, Cities and Civilians in Roman Syria. Ann Arbor. 
(2004) 'Roman material culture across imperial frontiers? Three case-studies 

from Parthian Dura-Europos', in The Greco-Roman East. Politics, Culture, 

Society, ed. S. Colvin. Cambridge: 119-44 (= Yale Classical Studies 31). 
Pond, M. Sh. (1970) The Arch of Fabius: a Sculptural Record of the Age of the 

Tetrarchies. Ann Arbor. 
Porada, E. (1980) Alt Iran. Die Kunst in vorislamischer Zeit. Baden-Baden (reprint 

of the revised edition of 1979). 
Portmann, W. (1989) 'Rede des Libanios und das Datum der Schlacht von Singara', 

ByzZ 82: 1-18. 
Potter, D. S. (1987) Alexander Severus and Ardashir', Mesopotamia 22: 147-57. 

(1990) Prophecy and History in the Crisis of the Roman Empire. A Historical 
Commentary on the Thirteenth Sibylline Oracle. Oxford. 

(1991) 'The inscription of the bronze Herakles from Mesene: Vologeses IV's war 
with Rome and the date of Tacitus' Annals', ZPE 88: 277-90. 

(1996a) 'Palmyra and Rome: Odaenathus' titulature and the use of the imperium 

maius', ZPE 113: 271—85. 
(1996b) 'Gaining information on Rome's neighbours', JRA 9: 528—32. 
(2004) The Roman Empire at Bay, AD 180-39$. London and New York. 
Potts, D. T (1989) 'Gundeshapur and the Gondeisos', IrAnt 24: 323-35. 
(1990) The Arabian Gulf in Antiquity. 2 vols. Oxford. 
(1997) 'The Roman relationship with the Persicus Sinus from the rise of Spasinou 

Charax (127 bc) to the reign of Shapur II (ad 309-79)', in The Early Roman 

Empire in the East, ed. S. E. Alcock. Oxford: 89-107. 

312 Bibliography 

Preifiler, H. (1975) 'Arabien zwischen Byzanz und Persien', in Geschichte der Araber. 

Von denAnfdngen biszur Gegenwart. Vol. 1: Vorraussetzungen, Bliite und Verfall 

des arabisch-islamischen Feudalreiches, eds. L. Rathmann et al. 2nd edn. Berlin: 

Preusser, C. (1911) Nordmesopotamische Baudenkmdler altchristlicher und islamischer 

Zeit. Leipzig, Reprint Osnabruck 1984. 
Pugliese Caratelli, G. (1971) 'La Persia dei sasanidi nella storiografia romana da 

Ammiana a Procopio', in Convegna internazionale sul tenia: La Persia nel 

medioevo, Roma, 31. marzo-5 aprile 1970, Roma. (= Academia Nazional dei 

Lincei. Quaderno n. 160). 
Raaflaub, K. A. (1996) 'Born to be wolves? Origins of Roman imperialism', in 

Transitions to Empire. Essays in Greco-Roman History, 360-146 B.C. in Honour 

ofE. Badian, eds. R. W. Wallace and E. Harris. Norman: 273-314. 
Rahimi-Laridjani, F. (1988) Die Entwicklungder Bewdsserungslandwirtschaft im Iran 

bis in sasanidisch-friihislamische Zeit. Wiesbaden. 
Rajak, T. (1998) 'The Parthians in Josephus', in Wiesehofer (1998a): 309-24. 
Raschke, M. G. (1978) 'New studies in Roman commerce with the East', ANRW 

11 9.2: 604-1378. 
Rawlinson, G. (1875) The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World or 

the History, Geography, and Antiquities of Chaldaea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, 

Persia, Parthia, and Sassanian or New Empire. Vol. in. New York. 
Reade, J. (ed.) (1996) The Indian Ocean in Antiquity. London. 
Redgate, A. E. (1998) The Armenians. Oxford and Maiden, Mass. Reprint 1999. 
Reining, G. J. and Stolte, B. (eds.) (2002) The Reign of Heraclius (610-41). Crisis 

and Confrontation. Leiden. 
Richter-Bernburg, L. (1993) 'Mani's Dodecads and Sasanian Chronology', ZPE 95: 

(2002) 'Gondesapur II: History and Medical School', Enclr xi 2: 131-3. 
Ridley, R.-T. (1973) 'Three notes on Julian's expedition (363)', Historia 22: 

(1984) Zosimos. New History. A Translation with Commentary (Byzantina Aus- 

traliensia 2). Canberra. 
Riedlberger, P. (1998) 'Die Restauration von Chosroes II', in Electrum Vol. IT. 

Ancient Iran and the Mediterranean World, ed. E. Dabrowa. Cracow: 161-75. 
Rist, J. (1996) 'Die Verfolgung der Christen im spatantiken Sasanidenreich. 

Ursachen, Verlauf und Folgen, OrChr 80: 17-42. 
Roaf, M. (1998) 'Persepolitan echoes in Sasanian architecture. Did the Sasanians 

attempt to re-create the Achaemenid Empire?', in The Art and Archaeology 

of Ancient Persia. New Light on the Parthian and Sasanian Empires, eds. V. S. 

Curtis, R. Hillebrandt, and J. M. Rogers. London, and New York: 1-7. 
Rodenwaldt, G. (1940) 'Ein lykisches Mouv,JDAI 55: 55-6. 
Rose Graser, E. (1940) 'The edict of Diocletian on maximum prices', mAn Economic 

Survey of Ancient Rome V, ed. T Frank. Baltimore: 307-421. 
Rosger, A. (1978) 'Die Darstellung des Perserfeldzuges des Severus Alexander in 

der Historia Augusta', in BHAC 1975/76: 167-74. 

Bibliography 313 

Ross, S. K. (2001) Roman Edessa. Politics and Culture on the Eastern Fringes of the 

Roman Empire (114-242 C.E.). London. 
Rostovtzeff, M. I. (1932) Caravan Cities. Translated by D. and T. Rice. New York. 
(1943) 'The Parthian shot', A/A 47: 174-87. 
(1943/4) 'R es Gestae Divi Saporis and Dura , Berytus 8: 17-60. 
Rothstein, G. (1968) Die Dynastie der Lahmiden in al-Hira. Ein Versuch zur arabisch- 

persischen Geschichte zur Zeit der Sasaniden. Berlin. (First edition 1899). 
Rouge, J. (1966) Expositio totius mundi et gentium. Introduction, texte critique, 

traduction, notes et commentaire. Paris. 
Rubin, B. (1960-95) Das Zeitalter Iustinians. Vol. 1, i960; Vol. 11 Aus dem Nachlass 

ed. by C. Capizzi. Berlin. 
Rubin, Z. (1975) 'Dio, Herodian and Severus' second Parthian War', Chiron 5: 

(1986) 'Diplomacy and war in the relations between Byzantium and the Sassanids 

in the fifth century ad', in Freemann and Kennedy (1986): 677—95. 
(1995) 'The reforms of Khusro Anushirwan', in The Byzantine and Early Islamic 

Near East. States, Resources, Armies. Studies in late Antiquity and Early Islam. 

Vol. in, ed. A. Cameron. Princeton: 227—97. 
(1998) 'The Roman Empire in the res gestae divi Saporis - the Mediterranean 

world in Sasanian propaganda, in Ancient Iran and the Mediterranean World. 

Proceedings of an International Conference in Honour off. Wolski held at the 

Jagiellonian University, Crakow, in September 1996, ed. E. Dabrowa. Crakow: 

Ruffing, K. (1999) 'Wege in den Osten. Die Routen des rdmischen Slid- und 

Osthandels (1. bis 2. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)', in Stuttgarter Kolloquium zurHis- 

torischen Geographic des Altertums y, 1999: Zu Wasser und zu land. Handelswege 

in der antiken Welt, eds. E. Olshausen and H. Sonnabend. Stuttgart: 360-75. 
Russell, J. R. (1990) 'Kartir and Mani: A Shamanistic model of their conflict', in 

Iranica Varia. Papers in Honor ofE. Yarshater. Actlr 30. Leiden: 180-93. 
(2001) 'The Persian invasion of Syria/Palestine and Asia Minor in the reign of 

Heraclius: archaeological and numismatic evidence', in The Dark Centuries 

of Byzantium (jth~9th c), ed. E. Kontoura-Galake. Athens: 41-71. 
Sachau, E. (1907) 'Von den rechtlichen Verhaltnissen der Christen im Sasaniden- 

reich, Mitteilungen des Seminars fur orientalische Sprachen zu Berlin 10, 2: 

Said, E. W. (1978) Orientalism. London. 
Sako, L. (1986) le role de la hierarchie syriaque orientale dans les rapports diploma- 

tiques entre la Perse et Byzance aux Ve—VIIe siecles. Paris. 
Samolin, W. (1957-8) 'Some notes on the Avar problem', Central Asiatic Journal 3: 

Sancisi-Weerdenburg. H. (1983) The Zedan and the Ka'bah. AMI. Erg.Bd. 10. Berlin. 
Sayih, A. (1965) 'Gondeshapur', EI 11 2 : 1119-20. 
Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, A. (1931) Die romische Kaisergeschichte bei Malalas. 

Griechischer Text der Biicher ix-xii und Untersuchungen. Stuttgart. 
Schieber, A. S. (1979) Antony and Parthia, RstorAnt 9: 105-24. 

314 Bibliography 

Schippmann, K. (1971) Die iranischen Feuerheiligtiimer. Berlin. 
(1980) Grundziige der parthischen Geschichte. Darmstadt. 

(1990) Grundziige der Geschichte des sasanidischen Reiches. Darmstadt. 
Schlumberger, D. (1935) Le development urbain de Palmyre, Berytus 2: 149-67. 

(1939) 'Bornes frontieres de la Palmyrene', Syria 20: 43-73; Nr. 13. 
Schlumberger, J. (1974) Die Epitome de Caesaribus. Untersuchungen zur heidnischen 

Geschichtsschreibung des 4. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. Munich. 
Schmidt, K. (2002) Friede durch Vertrag. Der Friedensvertragvon Kadesch von 1270 v. 

Chr., der Friede des Antalkidas von 386 v. Chr. und der Friedensvertragzwischen 

Byzanz und Persien von $62 v. Chr. Frankfurt am Main. 
Schmitt, R. (2000) Die iranischen Sprachen in Geschichte und Gegenwart. 

Schneider, R. M. (1998) 'Die Faszination des Feindes. Bilder der Parther und des 

Orients in Rom', in Wiesehofer (1998a): 95—147. 
Schoffler, H. H. (1979) Die Akademie von Gondischapur. Aristoteles aufdem Wegin 

den Orient. Stuttgart. 
Schonebeck, H. v. (1937) 'Die zyklische Ordnung der Triumphreliefs am Galerius- 

bogen in Saloniki', ByzZ 37: 361-71. 
Schottky, M. (1989) Media Atropatene und Gross-Armenien in hellenistischer Zeit. 


(1991) 'Parther, Meder und Hyrkanier. Eine Untersuchung der dynastischen und 
geographischen Verflechtungen im Iran des 1. Jhs. n. Chr.', AMI 24: 61—134. 

(1994) Dunkle Punkte in der armenischen Konigsliste, AMI 27: 223-35. 
Schreiner, P. (1983) 'Theophylaktos Simokates und das Perserbild der Byzantiner 

im 6. und 7. Jahrhundert', ZDMG Suppl. 5: 301-6. 
(1985) Fheophylaktos Simokates. Geschichte. Ubersetzt und erlautert. Stuttgart. 
Schrier, O. J. (1992) 'Syriac evidence for the Romano-Persian War of 421—422', 

GBRS 33: 75-86. 
Schuol, M. (2000) Die Charakene. Ein mesopotamisches Konigreich in hellenistisch- 

parthischer Zeit. Oriens et Occidens Bd. 1. Stuttgart. 
Schwaigert, "W. (1989) Das Christentum in Huzistan im Rahmen der frtihen 

Kirchengeschichte Persiens bis zur Synode von Seleukeia-Ktesiphon imjahre 410. 

Schwarte, K.-H. (1994) 'Diokletians Christengesetz', in Efontibus haurire. FS H. 

Chantraine, ed. R. Giinther and S. Rebenich. Paderborn: 203-40. 
Scott, R. (1992) 'Diplomacy in the sixth century, the evidence of John Malalas', 

in Byzantine Diplomacy: Papers from the Twenty -Fourth Spring Symposium of 

Byzantine Studies, eds. S. Franklin and J. Shepard. Aldershot: 159-66. 
Seager, R. (1996) 'Ammianus and the status of Armenia in the peace of 363', Chiron 

26: 275-84. 
(1997) 'Perceptions of eastern frontier policy in Ammianus, Libanius and Julian 

(337-363)', CQ 47: 253-68. 
Segal, J. B. (1955) 'Mesopotamian communities from Julian to the rise of Islam', 

PBA 41: 127. 
(1970) Edessa. 'The Blessed City'. Oxford. 

Bibliography 315 

Sellheim, R. (1994) 'Taq i-Bustan und Kaiser Julian (361-363)', Oriens 34: 354-66. 

Sellwood, C. D. (1985) 'Adiabene', Enclr 1: 459-65. 

Seston, W. (1939) 'Le roi sassanide Narses, les Arabes et le Manicheisme', in Melanges 
syriens offerts a R. Dussaud. T.I. Paris: 227-34. (German tr. in Widengren 
(1977): 362-73.) 
(1940) 'De l'authenticite et de la date de l'edit de Diocletien contre les 
Manich£ens', in Melanges de philologie, de litterature et d'histoire anciennes 
offerts a A. Ernout. Paris: 345-54 (reprinted in Widengren (1977): 374-84). 
(1946) Diocletien et la tetrarchie. I: guerres et reformes (284-300). Paris. 

Sevcenko, I. (1992) 'Re-reading Constantine Porphyrogenitus', in Byzantine Diplo- 
macy: Papers from the Twenty-Fourth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, 
eds. J. Shepard and S. Franklin. Aldershot: 167-95. 

Sezgin, F. (1967) Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums. Vol. 1. Leiden. 
(1990) Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums. Vol. in. Leiden. 

Shahbazi, A. Sh. (1986) Army. 5. The Sasanian period', Enclr 11: 496-99. 

(1989) 'Bahrain VI Cobin', Enclr in: 519-22. 

(1990) 'Byzantine-Iranian relations', Enclr iv: 588-99. 

(1991) Ferdowsi. Costa Mesa. 

(1992) 'Carrhae', Enclr 5: 9-13. 

(2002a) 'Gondesapur I: The city', Enclr xn 2: 131-3. 

(2002b) 'Recent speculations on the "traditional date of Zoroaster"', Stir 31. 1: 

(2002c) 'Early Sasanian's claim to Achaemenid heritage', Ndme-ye Iran Bastan 

1/1 (2001) [2002]: 61-73. 
Shahid, I. (1965) 'Ghassan', EI n 2 : 1020-1. 
(1971a) Al-HIra', EI in 2 : 462-3. 
(1971b) The Martyrs of Najran: New Documents. Subsidia Hagigraphica 49. 

(1984a) Rome and the Arabs. A Prolegomenon to the Study of Byzantium and the 

Arabs. Washington, D.C. 
(1984b) Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century. Washington, D.C. 
(1986) 'Lakhmids', EI v 2 : 632-4. 

(1988) Byzantium and the Semitic Orient before the Rise of Islam. London. 
(1995a) Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century. Vol. 1, part 1: Political and 

Military History, part 2: Ecclesiastical History. Washington, D.C. 
(1995b) Al-Numan (III) B. Al-Mundhir', EI vra: 119-20. 
(2000) 'Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century: a propos of a recent 

review', ByzF 26: 125-60. 
(2002) Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century. Vol. 11, part 1: Toponyms, 

Monuments. Washington, D.C. 
Shaked, Sh. (1990) Administrative functions of priests in the Sasanian period', 

in Proceedings of the First European Conference of Iranian Studies I, eds. Gh. 

Gnoli and A. Panaino. Rome: 262—74. 
Shaki, M. (1978) 'The social doctrine of Mazdak in the light of Middle Persian 

evidence', ArOr 46: 289-306. 

316 Bibliography 

Shepherd, D. (1983) 'Sasanian art', CHI in. 2: 1055-1112. 

Sherwin-White, A. N. (1977) 'Ariobarzanes, Mithridates and Sulla , CQ 27: 173- 

(1984) Roman Foreign Policy in the East 168 B.C. toA.D. 1. London. 
Sidebotham, S. E. (1986a) 'Ports of the Red Sea and the Arabia-India trade', MBAH 

5.2: 16-36. 
(1986b) Roman Economic Policy in the Erythra Thalassa. Mnemosyne Suppl. 91. 


(1989) 'Ports of the Red Sea and the Arabia-India trade', in French and Lightfoot 
(1989): 485-509- 

(1996) 'Roman interests in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean', in Reade (1996): 

Simpson, St. J. (2000) 'Mesopotamia in the Sasanian period: Settlement patterns, 

arts and crafts', in Mesopotamia and Iran in the Parthian and Sasanian Periods, 

ed. J. Curtis. London: 57-66. 
Sinor, D. (1990a) 'The establishment and dissolution of the Turk Empire', in The 

Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, ed. D. Sinor. Cambridge: 285-316. 
(1990b) 'The Hun period', in The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, ed. 

D. Sinor. Cambridge: 177-205. 
Skjaervo, P. O. (1983) The Sassanian Inscription ofPaikuli. Part 3.2: Commentary. 

Smith, R. (1999) 'Telling tales. Ammianus' narrative of the Persian expedition of 

Julian', in Drijvers and Hunt (1999): 89-104. 
Smith, S. (1954) 'Events in Arabia in the sixth century', BSOAS 16: 425-68. 
Sommer, M. (2003a) Hatra. Geschichte und Kultur einer Karawanenstadt im rbmisch- 

parthischen Mesopotamien. Sonderband AW. Mainz am Rhein. 

(2003b) 'Hatra - imperiale und regionale Herrschaft an der Steppengrenze', 

Klio 85: 384-98. 
(2004) Die Soldatenkaiser. Darmstadt. 
Sonnabend, H. (1986) Fremdenbild und Politik. Vorstellung der Romer von Agypten 

und dem Partherreich in der spaten Republik undfruhen Kaiserzeit. Frankfurt 

am Main, Bern and New York. 
Speck, P. (1988) Das geteilte Dossier. Beobachtungen zu den Nachrichten tiber die 

Regierung des Kaisers Herakleios und die seiner Sbhne bei Theophanes und 

Nikephoros. nOIKIAA BYZANTINA 9. Bonn. 

(1990) 'Review of Mango (1990)', ByzZ 83: 471-8. 

(2000) Varia III: Beitrage von P. Speck mit zwei Nachtragen von A. Berger und 
O. Kresten. nOIKIAA BYZANTINA 18. Bonn. 
Speidel, M. P. (1980) 'The Caucasus frontier. Second century garrisons at Asparus, 
Petra and Phasis', Roman Frontier Studies 1979: 657-60. 

(1984) 'Cataphractii, clibanarii and the rise of the later Roman mailed cavalry', 
EA 4: 151-6. 

(1985) 'Valerius Valerianus in charge of Septimius Severus' Mesopotamian cam- 
paign', CP 80: 321-6. 

Speyer, W. (1992) 'Barbar I', RAC Suppl. 1 5/6: 811-95. 

Bibliography 317 

Sprengling, M. (1940a) 'Kartir, Founder of Sasanian Zoroastrianism', American 

Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 57: 197-228. 
(1940b) 'Shapuhr I, the Great on the Kaabah of Zoroaster (KZ)', American 

Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 57: 360-71. 
(1953) Third Century Lran. Sapor und Kartir. Chicago. 
Springberg-Hinsen, M. (1989) Die Zeit vor dem Islam in arabischen Univer- 

salgeschichten des p. bis 12. Jahrhunderts. Religionswissenschaftliche Studien 

13. Wlirzburg. 
Spuler, B. (1952) Lran in fruh-islamischer Zeit. Wiesbaden. 

(ed.) (1961) Religionsgeschichte des Orients in der Zeit der Weltreligionen. HdO 1 

8.2. Leiden. 
Standish, J. F. (1970) 'The Caspian Gates', G&R 178: 17-24. 
Stausberg, M. (2002) Die Religion Zarathustras. Geschichte — Gegenwart — Rituale. 

Stuttgart, Berlin and Cologne. 
Stein, A. (1941) 'The ancient trade route past Hatra and the Roman posts', JRAS 

9: 299-316. 
Stein, E. (1949) Histoire du Bas-Empire. Vol. 11. De la disparation de I'empire 

d'occident a la mort de Justinien (4/6-^6^), ed. J.-R. Palanque. Paris. 
Stewart, J. (1928) Nestorian Missionary Enterprise. Edinburgh. 
Stock, K. (1978a) 'Yazdan-Friy-Sapur. Ein Grossgesandter Sapurs III. Ein Beitrag 

zur persisch-romischen Diplomatic und Diplomatik', StLr 7: 165—82. 
(1978b) 'Comes Commerciorum. Ein Beitrag zur spatantiken Verwaltungs- 

geschichte', Francia 6: 599-609. 
Stoll, O. (1998) 'Romische Militararchitekten und ihre Bedeutung fiir den 

Technologietransfer', in Religion — Wirtschaft— Technik. Althistorische Beitrage 

zur Entstehung neuer Strukturmuster im historischen Raum Nordafrika/ 

KleinasienlSyrien. Mainzer Althistorische Studien vol. 1, ed. L. Schumacher. 

St. Katharinen: 254-70. 
Stolte, B. H. (1971a) 'The death of the emperor Gordian III and the reliability 

of the Res Gestae Divi Saporis', in Acta of the Fifth International Congress of 

Greek and Latin Epigraphy Cambridge ip6y. Oxford: 385-6. 
(1971b) 'The Roman Emperor Valerian and Sapor I, King of Persia', RstorAnt 1: 

Stoneman, R. (1992) Palmyra and its Empire. Zenobia's Revolt against Rome. Ann 

Stratos, A. N. (1967) 'The Avars' attack on Byzantium in the year 626', in Poly- 

chordia: Festschrift Franz Dblger. BF 2 (1967): 370-6. 
(1968-72) Byzantium in the Seventh Century. Vol. 1: 602-34. Translated by 

M. Ogilvie-Grant; vol. 11: 634-41. Translated by H. T Hionides. 

Straub, J. (1980) Scurra barbarus, BHAC 1977/78. Antiquitas iv 14: 233-53. 

(1985) 'Die Sassaniden als aemuli imperii im Urteil des Ammianus Marcellinus', 

in From Late Antiquity to the Early Byzantium. Proceedings of the Byzantological 

Symposium in the 16th Lnternational Eirene Conference. Prag: 37-40 (reprinted 

in J. Straub (1986): 218-22). 

318 Bibliography 

(1986) (ed.), Regeneratio imperii II Aufsdtze tiber Roms Kaisertum und Reich im 

Spiegel der heidnischen und christlichen Publizistik. Darmstadt. 
Streck, M. (1997) 'Istakhr', EP iv: 219-22. 
Strobel, K. (1989) 'Jiidisches Patriarchat, Rabbinentum und Priesterdynastie von 

Emesa: Historische Phanomene innerhalb des Imperium Romanum der 

Kaiserzeit', Ktema 14: 39-77. 
(1993) Das Imperium Romanum im 3. Jahrhundert. Modell einer historischen Krise? 

Zur Frage der Strukturen breiterer Bevblkerungsschichten in der Zeit von Marc 

Aurel bis zum Ausgang des 3. Jhs. n. Chr. Stuttgart. 
(2001) 'Das Imperium Romanum 180-284/85 n. Chr. — Kontinuitaten, 

langfristiger Wandel und historische Briiche', in Das Altertum. Vom Alten 

Orient zur Spdtantike, eds. E. Erdmann and K. Uffelmann. Idstein: 239-78. 
Sundermann, W. (1963) Die sasanidische Herrscherlegitimation und ihre Bedingun- 

gen. Berlin. 
(1986) 'Mani, India and the Manichaean religion', South Asian Studies 2: n-19. 

(1990) 'Shapur's coronation', Bulletin of the Asia Institute N. S. 4: 295-9. 
Suolathi, J. (1947) On the Persian Sources Used by the Byzantine Historian Agathias. 

Studia Orientalia. Helsinki. 
Swain, S. (1993) 'Greek into Palmyrene. Odaenath as corrector totius orientis?', 

ZPE 99: 157-64. 
(1999) Oxford Readings in the Greek Novel. Oxford. 
Sykes, P. (1921) A History of Persia. Vol. 1. 2nd edn. London. 
Syme, R. (1968) Ammianus and the Historia Augusta. Oxford. 
Synelli, K. (1986) Oi SiTrAonaTiKes ayi.aa% Bv^avTiov kcu rTepaiasews tov 

CTTaidova. Athens. 
Szadeczky-Kardoss, S. (1979) 'Bemerkungen zur Geschichte (Chronologie und 

Topographie) der sassanidisch-byzantinischen Kriege', in Studies in the Sources 

on the History of Pre-Islamic Central Asia, ed. J. Harmatta. Budapest: 113-18. 
Szepessy, T. (1984) 'Die Aithiopika des Heliodoros und der griechische sophisti- 

sche Liebesroman', in Beitrdge zum griechischen liebesroman, ed. H. Gartner. 

Hildesheim et al.: 432-50. 
Tafazzoli, A. (2000) Sasanian Society. I. Warriors. II Scribes. Ill Dehqans, New 

Tanabe, K. (1981) An identification of the chain-armoured equestrian image at the 

larger grotto, Taq-i Bustan', Orient 17: 105-18. 

(1991) 'Bahram III. Sakanshah und shakanshak?', Bulletin of Ancient Orient 
Museum 12: 7-39. 

Tardieu, M. (1990) Les paysages reliques. Routes et haltes syriennes d'Isidore a Simpli- 

cius. Paris. 
Taubler, E. (1964) Imperium Romanum. Studien zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des 

romischen Reiches. Vol. 1: Die Staatsvertrdge und Vertragsverhdltnisse. Rome. 
Teitler, H. (1999) 'Viva vel lecta? Ammianus on Persia and the Persians', in Drijvers 

and Hunt (1999): 216-23. 
Teixidor, J. (1979) The Pantheon of Palmyra. Leiden. 
(1984) Un port romain du desert: Palmyre. Paris. 

Bibliography 319 

(1995) 'Consequences politiques et culturelles de la victoire sassanide a Nisibe', 
in Frezouls and Jacquemin (1995): 499-510. 

Thompson, E. A. (1950) 'The foreign policies of Theodosius II and Marcian', 
Hermathena 76: 58-75. 

(1996) The Huns (rev. P. J. Heather). Oxford. 

Thomson, R. W. (1976) Agathangelos. History of the Armenians. Albany. 

(1980) Moses Khorenats'i. History of the Armenians. Translation and Commentary 
on the Literary Sources. 2nd edn. Cambridge, Mass. and London. 

(1982) Elishe, History ofVardan and the Armenian War. Translation and Com- 
mentary by R. W. Thomson. Cambridge. 

(1991) The History ofLazar P'arpec'i. Atlanta. 

(1999) The Armenian History attributed to Sebeos. Translated, with notes, by 
R. W. Thomson. Historical Commentary by J. Howard-Johnston. Assistance 
from T Greenwood. Part 1. Liverpool. 

(2000) Armenia in the fifth and sixth century', in CAH xiv: 662—77. 

(2001) The Armenian Adaptation of the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus 
(commonly known as 'The Shorter Socrates'). Translation of the Armenian Text 
and Commentary. Leuven, Paris and Sterling, VA. 

Thorley, J. (1969) 'The development of trade between the Roman Empire and the 

East under Augustus', G&R N. S. 16: 209-23. 
Timpe, D. (1962) 'Die Bedeutung der Schlacht von Carrhae', MH 19: 104-29. 
(1975) 'Zur augusteischen Partherpolitik zwischen 30 und 20 v. Chr.', WJA 
N. F. 1: 155-69. 
Tinnefeld, F. (1971) Kategorien der Kaiserkritik in der byzantinischen Historiographie 
von Prokop bis Niketas Choniates. Munich. 
(1993) 'Ceremonies for foreign ambassadors at the court of Byzantium and their 
political background', ByzF 19: 193-213. 
Toumanoff, C. (1954) 'Christian Caucasia between Byzantium and Iran', Traditio 
10: 109-90. 
(1963) Studies in Christian Caucasian History. Georgetown. 
(1969) 'The third century Armenian Arsacids - a chronological and genealogical 

commentary', REtArm 6: 233—81. 
(1971) 'Caucasia and Byzantium', Traditio 27: 111-58. 
Toynbee, A. (1973) Constantine Porphyrogenitus and his World. Oxford. 
Treadgold, W. (1997) A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford, CA. 

(2001) A Concise History of Byzantium. New York. 
Trombley, F. (1999) Ammianus Marcellinus and fourth-century warfare: a pro- 
tector's approach to historical narrative', in Drijvers and Hunt (1999): 
(2005) 'The late Roman practice of war on the Syrian frontier (ad 502-641)', 
in Krieg — Gesellschaft - Institution. Beitrage zu einer vergleichenden Kriegs- 
geschichte, eds. B. Meifiner, O. Schmitt, and M. Sommer. Berlin: 387—416. 
Trumpelmann, L. (1975) 'Triumph iiber Julian Apostata, JNG 25: 107-11. 

(1992) Zwischen Persepolis und Firuzabad. Graber, Paldste und Felsreliefs imAlten 
Persien. Mainz am Rhein. 

320 Bibliography 

(1994) Iranische Denkmdler. Lieferung 6. Reihe 11: Iranische Felsreliefs. B. Das 

sasanidische Felsrelief von Darab. Berlin. 
Tucci, M. J. (1992) The Battle ofCarrhae: The Effects of a Military Disaster on the 

Roman Empire. Columbia, Miss. 
Turcan, R. (1966) 'L'abandon de Nisibe et l'opinion publique (363 ap. J. C.)', 

in Melanges d'archeologie et d'histoire offerts a Andre Piganiol. Vol. 11, ed. 

R. Chevalier. Paris: 875-90. 
Turtledove, H. (1977) The Immediate Successors of Justinian. A Study in the Persian 

Problem. Los Angeles. 
(1983) 'Justin lis observance of Justinian's Persian treaty of 562', ByzZ j6: 292- 

Tyler, P. (1975) The Persian War of the Third Century AD and Roman Imperial 

Monetary Policy AD 253-263. Historia Einzelschriften 23. Wiesbaden. 
Tyler-Smith, S. (2000) 'Coinage in the name of Yazdgird III (ad 632-651) and the 

Arab conquest of Iran', NC 160: 135-70. 
Vanden Berghe, L. (1984) Reliefs rupestres de Than ancien. Brussels, 
van de Mierop, M. (1997) 'On writing a history of the ancient Near East', Bibliotheca 

Orientalis 54: 285-306. 
Van der Vin, J. P. A. (1981) 'The return of Roman ensigns from Parthia', Bulletin 

Antieke Beshaving 56: 117-39. 
van der Walk, M. (1941) 'Remarques sur la date des Ethiopiques', Mnemosyne 9: 

van Rompay, L. (1995) 'Impetuous martyrs? The situation of the Persian Christians 

in the last years of Yazdgard I (419-420)', in Martyrium in Multidisciplinary 

Perspective. Memorial Louis Reekmans, eds. M. Lamboigts and P. van Deun. 

Louvain: 363-75. 
van Wickevoort Crommelin, B. (1998) 'Die Parther und die parthische Geschichte 

bei Pompeius Tragus - Iustin', in Wiesehofer (1998a): 259-77. 
Vasiliev, A. A. (1935-50) Byzance et les arabes, tr. H. Gr6goire and M. Canard. 

2 vols. Brussels. 
(1950) Justin the First. An Introduction to the Epoch oflustinian the Great. Dum- 
barton Oaks Studies I. Cambridge. 
Veh, O. (ed.) (1970) Prokop. Perserkriege. Griechisch-Deutsch. Munich. 
(1978) Prokop. Gotenkrieg. Griechisch-Deutsch. 2nd edn. Munich. 
(1990) Zosimos. Neue Geschichte. Ubersetzt und eingeleitet von O. Veh, durchgese- 

hen und erlautert von St. Rebenich. Munich. 
Verosta, S. (1964) 'International law in Europe and Western Asia between 100 and 

650 ad', Recueil de cours. Academie de droit international 113. Leiden. 
(1965) 'Die ostromisch-persischen Vertrage von 562 n. Chr. und ihre Bedeutung 

fur das Volkerrecht', AAWW 102: 153-6. 
Vivian, M. R. (1987) A letter to Shapur: The Effect of Constantine's Conversion on 

Roman-Persian Relations. Ann Arbor, 
von Schonebeck, H. (1937) 'Die zyklische Ordnung der Triumphreliefs am 

Galeriusbogen in Saloniki', ByzZ 37: 361-71. 

Bibliography 321 

von Wickevoort-Crommelin, B. (1994) 'Euphratgrenze (romisch)', DNP 4: 272-3. 
von Wissmann, H. (1964) 'Himyar. Ancient history', Le Museon jj: 429-99. 
Wada, H. (1970) Prokops Rdtselwort Serinda und die Verpflanzung des Seidenbaus 

von China nach dem ostromischen Reich. Cologne. 
Wagner, J. (1983) 'Provincia Osrhoenae. New archaeological finds illustrating 

the military organization under the Severan Dynasty', in Mitchell (1983): 


(1985) Die Romer an Euphrat und Tigris. Sondernummer AW 16. Mainz am 

Walker, J. Th. (2002) 'The limits of late antiquity: philosophy between Rome and 

Iran', The Ancient World 33.1: 45-9. 
Walser, G. (1984) Hellas und Iran. Studien zu den griechisch-persischen Beziehungen 

vor Alexander. Darmstadt. 
Warmington, B. H. (1977) 'Objectives and strategy in the Persian War of Con- 

stantius II', in Limes. Acts of the XI Limes Congress 1976, ed. J. Fitz. Budapest: 


(1986) 'The source of some Constantinian documents in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical 
History and Life of Constantine', Studia Patristica 18. 1: 93-8. 

Watt, J. W. (2000) The Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Sty lite, translated by J. W 

Watt and E Trombley. Liverpool. 
Wheeler, B.-M. (1991) 'Imagining the Sasanian capture of Jerusalem', OCP 57: 

Whitby, L. M. (1983) 'Arzanene in the late sixth century', in Mitchell (1983): 205-18. 
(1986a) 'Procopius and the development of defences in Upper Mesopotamia', in 

Freeman and Kennedy (1986): 717-35. 
(1986b) 'Procopius' description of Dara (Buildings II, 1-3)', in Freeman and 
Kennedy (1986): 737-83. 

(1988) The Emperor Maurice and his Historian: Theophylact Simocatta in Persian 
and Balkan Warfare. Oxford. 

"Whitby, L. M. and Whitby, M. (1986) The History of Theophylact Simocatta. An 
English Translation with Introduction and Notes. Oxford. 

(1989) Chronicon Paschale 284-628. Translated with Notes and Introduction. 

Whitby, M. (1995) 'Recruitment in Roman armies from Justinian to Heraclius 

(c. 565-615)', in Cameron (1995): 61-124. 
(1998) 'Defender of the cross: Georgia of Pisidia on the Emperor Heraclius and 

his deputees, in Propaganda and Power. The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity, 

ed. M. Whitby. Leiden: 247-73. 
(2000) The Ecclesiastical History of Euagrius Scholasticus. Translated Texts for 

Historians 33. Liverpool. 
Whitehouse, D. (1996) 'Sasanian Maritime Activity', in Reade (1996): 339-49. 
"Whitehouse, D. and Williamson, A. (1973) 'Sasanian maritime trade', Lran 11: 

"Whittaker, C. R. (1994) Frontiers of the Roman Empire. Baltimore and London. 

322 Bibliography 

Whittow, M. (1995/9) 'Rome and the Jafnids: writing the history of a sixth-century 

tribal dynasty', in The Roman and Byzantine Near East. 2 vols., ed. J. H. 

Humphrey. Portsmouth: Vol. 11, 207-24. 
Widengren, G. (1952) 'Xosrau Anosurvan, les Hephthalites et les peuples turcs. 

Etudes preliminaires des sources', Orientalia Suecana 1: 69-94. 
(1961) Mani und der Manichdismus. Stuttgart. 
(1965) Die Religion Irans. Stuttgart. 
(1971) 'The establishment of the Sasanian Dynasty in the light of new evidence', 

in Persia (1971): 711-82. 
(1976) 'Iran, der grosse Gegner Roms: Konigsgewalt, Feudalismus, 

Militarwesen', ANRW 11 9.1: 219-306. 
(ed.) (1977) Der Manichdismus. WdF 168. Darmstadt. 
(1983) 'Sources of Parthian and Sasanian history', CHI m. 2: 1261-83. 
Wiesehofer, J. (1982) 'Die Anfange sassanidischer Westpolitik und der Untergang 

Hatras', Klio 64: 437-47. 
(1986a) Ardaslr I - History', Enclr 4: 371-6. 
(1986b) 'Iranische Anspriiche an Rom auf ehemals achaimenidische Territorien', 

AMIN. F. 19: 177-85. 
(1989) '1-ytlb t'r 'byh. Hormizd II. und Rom', in Migratio et Commutatio. FS 

Th. Pekdry, eds. H.-J. Drexhage and J. Siinskes. St. Katharinen: 68-71. 

(1993) 'Geteilte Loyalitaten. Religiose Minderheiten des 3. und 4. Jahrhunderts 
n. Chr. im Spannungsfeld zwischen Rom und dem sasanidischen Iran', Klio 
75: 362-82. 

(1994) 'Zum Nachleben von Achaimeniden und Alexander in Iran', in AchHist 
vn: 389-97. 

(1996) ' "King of kings" and "philhellen": kingship in Arsacid Iran', in Aspects of 

Hellenistic Kingship, eds. P. Bilde et al. Aarhus: 55-66. 
(ed.) (1998a) Das Partherreich und seine Zeugnisse. Beitrdge des internationalen 

Colloquiums Eutin (27 — 30. ]uni 1996). Historia Einzelschriften 12. Stuttgart. 
(1998b) 'Mare Erythraeum, Sinus Persicus und Fines Indiae. Der Indische Ozean 

in hellenistischer und romischer Zeit', in Der indische Ozean in historischer 

Perspektive, ed. St. Conermann. Hamburg: 10-36. 
(1998c) 'Istachr', DNP v: 1145-6. 
(i998d) 'Gundeshapur', DNP v: 10. 
(2001) Ancient Persia from 550 BC to 6$o AD. Translated by A. Azodi. 2nd edn. 

London and New York. (German ed. of 1994, Das antike Persien. Von 550 v. 

Chr. bis 6$o n. Chr. Zurich and Munich.) 
(2005) 'Rome as enemy of Iran', in Cultural Borrowings and Ethnic Appropriations 

in Antiquity, ed. E. S. Gruen. (Oriens et Occidens 8) Stuttgart: 105-20. 
Wiesehofer, J. and Huyse, Ph. (eds.) (2006) Iran und Anirdn. Studien zu den 

Beziehungen zwischen dem Sasanidenreich und der Mittelmeerwelt. Beitrdge des 

Internationalen Colloquiums in Euien, 8-9 Juni 2000. Stuttgart. 
Wiessner, G. (1967) Untersuchungen zur syrischen literaturgeschichte I: Zur 

Martyreruberlieferung aus der Christenverfolgung Schapurs II. AAG. Ph.-h. Kl. 

3. Folge Nr. 6y. Gottingen. 

Bibliography 323 

Wiita, J. E. (1977) 'The ethnika in Byzantine military treatises', Ph. D. diss. Uni- 
versity of Minnesota. 

Wilcox, P. and McBride, A. (1986) Rome's Enemies (3): Parthians and Sasanid Per- 
sians. London. 

Will, E. (1983) 'Le developpement urbain de Palmyre', Syria 60: 69-81. 
(1992) Les Palmyreniens. La venise des sables. Paris. 

Williams, A. (1972) 'Persian Gulf commerce in the Sassanian period and the first 
two centuries of Islam', BCHI 9/10: 97-109. 

Winkelmann, F. (1991) Euseb von Kaisareia. Der Vater der Kirchengeschichte. Berlin. 

Winkler, J. J. (1982) 'The mendacity of Kalasiris and the narrative strategy of 
Heliodoros' Aithiopika' , YCS 27: 93-158. 

Winter, E. (1987) 'Handel und Wirtschaft in sasanidisch - (ost-) romischen 
Vertragen und Abkommen', MBAH vi 2: 46-74. 
(1988) Die sdsanidisch-romischen Friedensvertrdge des 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. - Ein 
Beitragzum Verstdndnis der aufenpolitischen Beziehungen zwischen den beiden 
Grofmdchten. Frankfurt. 
(1989a) 'Legitimitat als Herrschaftsprinzip: Kaiser und "Konig der Konige" im 
wechselseitigen Verkehr', in Migratio et Commutatio. FS Th. Pekdry, eds. H.-J. 
Drexhage and J. Siinskes. St. Katharinen: 72-92. 
(1989b) 'On the regulation of the Eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in 298 

ad', in French and Lightfoot (1989): 555-71. 
(1994) 'Die Bedeutung des Grenzraumes ftir den diplomatischen Verkehr: Das 
Imperium Romanum und seine ostlichen Nachbarn', in Stuttgarter Kollo- 
quium zur Historischen Geographie des Altertums 4. Geographica Historica 7, 
eds. E. Olshausen and H. Sonnabend. Bonn: 589-607. 
(1996) Staatliche Baupolitik und Baufiirsorge in den romischen Provinzen des 

kaiserzeitlichen Kleinasien. Asia Minor Studien 20. Bonn. 
(1998) 'Romischer Ethnozentrismus in der spaten Republik. Das Griechenbild 
Ciceros', LAVERNA 9: 46-65. 

Winter, E. and Dignas, B. (2001) Rom und das Perserreich. Zwei Weltmachte zwis- 
chen Konfrontation und Koexistenz. Studienbiicher Geschichte und Kultur der 
Alten Welt. Berlin. 

Wirth, G. (1978) 'Julians Perserkrieg. Kriterien einer Katastrophe', in Klein (1978): 
(1980/1) 'Rom, Parther und Sassaniden. Erwagungen zu den Hintergriinden 
eines historischen Wechselverhaltnisses', AncSoc 11/12: 305-47. 

Wirth, P. (ed.) (1967) Byzantinische Forschungen 1. Polychordia. Festschrift fur E 
Dolger. Amsterdam. 

Wissemann, M. (1982) Die Parther in der augusteischen Dichtung. Frankfurt and 
(1984) 'Rom und das Kaspische Meer', RhMN. F. 127: 166-73. 

Witschel, Ch. (1999) Krise - Rezession - Stagnation: Der Westen des romischen Reiches 
im 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. Frankfurter Althistorische Beitrage Bd. 4. Frankfurt. 

Wolski, J. (1957) 'The decay of the Iranian Empire of the Seleucids and the chronol- 
ogy of the Parthian beginnings', Berytus 12: 35-52. 

324 Bibliography 

(1966) 'Les Achem6nides et les Arsacides. Contribution a I'histoire de la forma- 
tion des traditions iraniennes', Syria 43: 65-89. 

(1969) 'Der Zusammenbruch der Seleukidenherrschaft in Iran im 3. Jh. v. Chr.', 
m Der Hellenismus in Mittelasien. WdF. Vol. 91, eds. F. AltheimandJ. Rehork. 
Darmstadt: 188-254. 

(1976) 'Iran und Rom. Versuch einer historischen Wertung der gegenseitigen 
Beziehungen', ANRW 11 9.1: 195-214. 

(1983a) 'Les rapports romano-parthes et la question de I'Armenie', Ktema 8: 

(1983b) 'Die Parther und ihre Beziehungen zur griechisch-romischen Kultur', 
Klio 65: 137-49. 

(1983c) 'Sur le "philhellenisme" des Arsacides', Gerion 1: 145-56. 

(1985) 'Dans Fattente d'une nouvelle histoire de l'lran arsacide', IrAnt 20: 163-73. 

(1992) 'Sur Fauthenticite des traites romano-perses', IrAnt 27: 169-87. 

(1993) L' Empire des Arsacides. Aclr 3, 32. Leiden. 

(2003) Seleucid and Arsacid Studies: A Progress Report on Developments in Source 

Research. Crakow. 
Woods, D. (1996) 'The Saracen defenders of Constantinople', GRBS 37: 259-79. 
Wright, W. (1872) Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum III. 

Wylie, G. (1990) 'How did Trajan succeed in subduing Parthia where Marc 

Anthony failed?', AHB 4, 2: 37-43. 
Yarshater, E. (1971) 'Were the Sasanians heirs to the Achaemenids?', in Persia (1971): 

(1983a) 'Mazdakism', in CHI in. 2: 991-1024. 
(1983b) 'Iranian national history', in CHI m. 1: 359-480. 
York, J. M. (1972) 'The image of Philip the Arab', Historia 21: 320-32. 
Young, F. (1983) From Nicaea to Chalcedon. London. 
Young, G. K. (2001) Rome's Eastern Trade. International Commerce and Imperial 

Policy 31 BC-AD 305. London and New York. 
Yusuf, S. M. (1945) 'The battle of al-Qadisiyya, Islamic Culture 19: 1-28. 
Yuzbashian, K. N. (1986) 'The chronology of the Armeno-Georgian insurrection 

against the Sassanians at the end of the vth century', Palestinskij Sbornik 28: 


(1996) 'Le Caucase et les Sassanides', in II Caucaso. Cerniera fra culture dal 

Mediterraneo alia Persia, ed. Centro Italiano di Studi SulF alto medioevo. 

2 vols. Spoleto: 143-64. 
Zaehner, R. C. (1975 [1956]) The Teachings of the Magi. A Compendium ofZoroas- 

trian Beliefs. 2nd edn. London. 
(1961) Dawn and Twilight ofZoroastrianism. London. 
Zahrnt, M. (1986) 'Zum Fiskalgesetz von Palmyra', ZPE 62: 279—93. 
Zakythinos, D. A. (1979) Byzantinische Geschichte}24—ioyi. Vienna, Cologne and 

Zanker, P. (1987) Augustus und die Macht der Bilder. Munich. 

Bibliography 325 

Zeimal, E. V. (1993) 'The political history of Transoxania', CHI iii.i: 232—62. 

(Reprint from 1983.) 
Ziegler, K. H. (1964) Die Beziehungen zwischen Rom und dem Partherreich. 

(1972) 'Die Chimare des internationalen Schiedsgerichts im romisch-persischen 

Friedensvertrag vom Jahre 562 n. Chr.', Index 3: 427—42. 
Zimmermann, M. (1999a) Kaiser und Ereignis. Studien zum Geschichtswerk Hero- 

dians. Vestigia. Vol. 52. Munich. 
(1999b) 'Herodians Konstruktion der Geschichte und sein Blick auf das 

stadtromische Volk', in Geschichtsschreibung und politischer Wandel im 3. Jh. 

n. Chr. Kolloquium zu Ehren K.-E. Petzolds anlafilich seines 80. Geburtstags. 

Historia Einzelschriften 127, ed. M. Zimmermann. Stuttgart: 119—43. 
Zuckerman, C. (2002) 'Heraclius in 625', REB 60: 189—97. 
Zyromski, M. (1998) 'The relations between Sassanian Persia and the Roman 

Empire during the principate: part of the Roman "grand strategy" or only 

response to crisis?', EOS 85: 107-19. 

Index of sources 


17.16: 224 


II. 30. 3: 264 
11. 31. 1— 4: 264 
iv.23.1: 41 
IV.24.3-4: 262 
lv.26.6-7: 132 
IV.26.7: 82, 134 
IV.29.5-6: 109 
iv.30.8— 10: 41 

877: 181 


in. 2. 2: 185 
xiv.3.3: 202 
xvi.10.8: 75 
xvn.5.10: 105 
xvii. 5.3: 122, 149 
xvii.5.3-5: 90 
xvii.5.3-8: 60 
xvm.5.3: 127, 205 
xvm.6.9: 127, 131 
xvm. 8. 5-6: 252 
xix.1.7: 90 
xix.1-9: 90 
xix 2.3: 90 
xx.6.1-9: 90 
xx.6.7: 259 
xx.j.j—9: 251 
xx.7.9: 251 
xxiii. 3.1: 196 
xxiii. 3. 5: 132 
xxiii. 3. 7: 202 

XXIII. 5. 17: 22, 78 

xxiii. 5. 19: 241 
xxiv.6.8: 135 
xxiii. 6. 15-24: 261 
xxiii. 6. 83: 135 
xxiv.8.4: 132 
xxv. 4.24: 60, 90 

xxv.7.9: 126 

xxv.7.13: 200 

xxv.7. 19-14: 201 

xxv.8.5: 155 

xxv.8.14: 90, 199 

xxv.9.1-12: 132, 201 

xxvn.12.1-2: 192 

xxvii.12.16-17: 183 

xxvii. 30. 2-3: 192 

xxx.1.1-23: 184 

xxx.2.2: 183 

xxx.2.4: 183 

xxx.2.7: 183 

xxxi. 13. 1: 91 
Anonymus post Dionem 

frg.12: 26 
App. Civ. 

v.9: 156 
Aur. Vict. Cues. 

24.2.7: 74 

38.2-3: 26 

38.6: 26 

39.36: 29 

39.8: 29 

Barhebraeus Chron. Eccl. 
ill. 65. 16— 17: 227 

Cass. Dio 

xxxvii. 6. 1-2: 12 
XL.16— 27: 12 
Lxvm.17.1: 14 
Lxvm.31.1: 153 
0cv111.31.1-4: 154 
Lxvm.31: 153 
Lxx.36.1-2: 217 
Lxxv.9.4: 259 154 
Lxxvi.12.2: 153 
LXXvm.7.1-4: 16 
Lxxix.1.1-2: 15 


Index of sources 


ocxx.3.3: 154 
ocxx.3.4: 71 
ixxx.4.1: 55 

Celsus Orig. c. Cels. 

praef. 5: 217 
Chr. Arb. 

11 p.67, 9-11 (tr. Kawerau): 32 

11 p. 77, 11.7 _ 9 ( tr - Kawerau): 251 
Chr. Pasch. 

a. 591: 43 

a.614: 117 

a. 615: 45 

a. 628: 150 
Cic. Dom. 


m. 824: 86 

in 4346: 120 

in 5810: 27 

in 6979: 86 

m 7586: 25 

in 10619: 120 

in 14354/6: 120 

v 4319: 161 

vi 1097: 120 

vi 1112: 25 

vm 9040: 25 

viii 12522: 26 

xii 5549: 25 

xii 5561: 25 

xiii 8973: 25 
Cod. lust. 

iv. 40. 2: 203 

iv.41.1: 204 

iv.41.1— 2: 199 

iv.41.2: 204 

iv.53.1 (4): 199 

iv.63.2: 199, 203, 204 

iv.63.4 (3): 146 

iv.63.6. praef.: 206 

iv.63.6: 203 
Cod. Theod. 

iv.13.8-9: 203 

vii. 16. 2: 203 

vii. 16.3: 204 

v.12.20: 183 

Dig. 199 199 
1.8.11: 199 

xxxix.4.11: 199, 204 
xxxix.4.16 (7): 195 


11.32.4: 253 
xxxi. 17a: 132 
xl. 4 : 53 

Edictum Diocletiani et Collegarum de pretiis 
rerum venalium 

praef.: 29 
Epic Histories 

III. 21: 181 
Euagr. HE 

v.7: 120 

vi. 19: 43 

//irvin.13.9: 29 

v. Const. 4.11: 149 

viii. 23: 74 

ix. 2— 3: 79 

ix.13: 161 

ix.18.1: 26 

ix.25.1: 125 

ix. 25: 84 

ix.27.2: 129 

x.10.1: 89 

x.17.3: 131 

x.17: 132 
Expositio totius mundi et gentium 22 (p. 156 ed. 
Rouge): 204 


14.5: 84 

14: 122, 126 

22: 74, 79 

24: 26, 161 

25. 2-3: 84 

25: 129 

27.2: 201 

29: 131, 132 

iv p. 105: 191 

iv p. 106: 193 

iv p. 107: 194 

iv p. 189: 190 

iv p. 198: 26 

iv p. 208: no 

iv p. 250: 146 

iv p. 257: 146 
Firdausi (tr. Mohl) 

vol. 7. 101-23: 43 

vol. 7.109-39: 237 



Index of sources 


in. 130: 183 
in. 153-8: 252 
vi.70: 252 
vii. 100. 1: 253 
vm.90.4: 253 


m.9.3-4: 154 
in. 9. 4: 19 
111.9: 153 
iv.8.1-3: 16 
iv.10.2-4: 16 
iv.18: 199 
v.1.4: 16 
vi. 2.1: 71 
vi. 2. 4: 71 
vi. 2. 4-5: 18 
VI. 2. 5— 6: 19 
vi.4.4-5: 19 
vi.4. 5 :7i 
vi.5.5-10: 74 
vi.5.8: 74 
vi.6.1: 74 

Hier. Vit. Malchi 

Horace, Carm. 
tv.15.14-1;: 53 

50-3: 100 

71—3: 100 

75-7: 100 

80-2: 100 

88: 100 
Isid. Ch. Mansiones Parthicae 

1: 196 

i.i8a-b: 29 

1.22 b— c: 127 

xli.i.i: 13 

XLI.5.5: 17 
Ioh. Eph., Lives 

PO 17.142: 227 

Lib. Or. 

1. 134: 132 

12.74: 252 

17: 93 

18.263: 91 

18.277—8: 132 

59.83-4: 259 

59.85: 259 
Lyd., Mag. 

m.51-3: 37 

in. 53: 192 


1 1144: 26 

506: 120 

507: 120 

579: 161 

581: 25 

600: 26 

642: 86 

660: 86 

8925: 25 
Inscription ofPaikuli 

§92 (p. 71, ed. Skjaervo): 190 
Ios., AJ 

xviii. 46: 13 
Ios. Styl. 

7.11-12: 37 

8: 135, 137, 194 


9-10: 98 

11: 98 

18: 133, 187, 194 

19: 187 

20: 194 

23: 194 

48—101: IOO 


12.6-24 (p- 3°8): 84 

12.39 (p-3o8): 129 

13-27 (p- 336): 132 

16.9 (p. 398): 188 

18.19-20 (p. 449): 233 

18.44 (p- 449): 125 

18. 50-1 (p. 455-6): 174 

18.61 (p. 467): 149 

18.63 (p- 469): 174 

frg. 1: 137 
Marc. Com. 

a. 420.3: 137 

a. 421.4: 135 

a. 422: 135 

a. 441. 1: 137 
Men. Prot. 

frg. 11: 104, no, 194, 249 

frg. 12: 138 

frg. 18: 115, 207 

frg- AT- 146 
frg. 55: 146 
Mos. Chor. 

11.71-9: 178 
11 .77: 180 

Index of sources 



22B-23B (pp. 19-20 ed. de Boor): 150 
Not. Dign. Or. 

xiii. 6-9: 204 

Or. Sib. 

3. 350-5: 1 

vii. 19: 79 
vii. 25. 11: 84 

Pan. Lat. 

viii (v) 10.4: 29 

viii. (v).2i.i: 259 

x (11) 7.5: 26, 27 

x (11) 9.2: 26, 27 

xi (m) 17.2: 26 
Petr. Patr. 

frg. 10: 159 

frg. 13: 238, 265 

frg. 14: 190 
PI. Leg. 

945c: 237 
Plin. HN 

vi. 112: 153 

Crass. 18-33: 12 

Crass. 31.8: 259 

Luc. 31: 132 

Sull. 5.4-5: 12 

m.33.15: 106 

v.45.4: 156 

frg. 1: 217 

frg. 41. 1: 191 

frg. 41.3: 193 

frg- AT- 194 

Aed. 11. 1. 4— 5: 103 

11. 1. 5: 103 

11. 2. 1— 7: 101 

11. 3: 142 

11.4: 131 

II. 6.1— 11: 107 

11. 10. 1-25: 109 
BP 1. 2. 1— 5: 94 

1. 2. 15: 103 

1.3.7: 183 

1.3.8: 37 

1.3.8-4.35: 98 

1.5.7: 99 

1.6.1-18: 37 

.6.18: 99 

.7.1-2: 37 

.7.1-4: 194 

.7.5-35: 100 

.9.1-25: 37 

.10.1-19: 38 

.10.3-8: 189 

.10.13-16: 145 

.10.15: 103 

.10.16: 103 

.10.17: 103 

,10.18-19: 103 

.11.1-6: 105 

.12.1-24: 38 

.14.44: 135 

.15.26-9: 174 

.16.4: 194 

.16.6-8: 145 

.18.1: 170 

.18.7: 170 

.18.9: 170 

.18.35: 170 

.19.1: 112 

.19.1-2: 207 

.20.1: 112 

.20.3-8: 112 

.20.9: 112 

.20.9-13: 207 

.20.13: 113 

.22: 104 

.22.1—19: 38 

.22.3: 38, 107, 171, 249 

.22.3-5: 38 

.22.16: 104 

.22.16-18: 38 

.26.2: 39 

1.2.3: 253 

1. 4.14-26: 107 

[1. 5. 2-4: 108 

1.5.8-26: 108 

1.5.29—33: 108 

1.6.16-25: 108 

[I.7.1-13: 108 

[I.10.24: 39 

[I.12.1-34: 40 

[1. 13. 16-27: 40 

1.13.27-8: 40 

1.14.1-7: 109 

1.15.1-31: 40 

1. 16. 17: 171 

1.17.3-28: 40 

:i. 19. 11— 18: 171 

■25-1-3: 174 
.25.3: 145 
.26.5-46: 40 


Index of sources 

Proc. (cont.) 

ii. 27. 1-46: 40 
11.z8.6-11: 40, 249 
11. 28. 12-14: 171, 249 
11. 31— 44: 248, 251 
vm. 7. 7: 101 


iv 2 164: 77 

201: yj 

324: 77 

652: 77 
V 2 584, nos. 1-2: 161 
vi 145: 29 

23 a.b. 26: 86 


Aur. 26.3: 162 

26.5: 162 

33.1-2: 161 
Car. 8.1: 26 

9.1: 26 

10. 1: 29 
Claud. 4.4: 162 

7.5: 162 
Gall. 10. 1-2: 160 

13.5: 160 
Cord. 2.6.6: 78 

27.6: 22 

29-30: 79 
Heliogab. 35.4: 29 
Prob. 17.4: 25 

20.1: 25 
Tyr. Trig. 24.4: 161 

27.1: 159 

§9 (I. 6/5/11, p. 295 ed. Back): 22 

§§10-17 (I. 6/5/11 - I. 12/9/19, pp. 295-306 ed. 

Back): 23 
§30 (1. 20/15/34 - 1- 21/16/35, PP- 3 2 4 _ 6 ed. 

Back): 254 
§44 (1. 31/25/60, p. 355 ed. Back): 190 
Socr. HE 
vii. 20-1: 135 
vii. 21. 1-6: 250 
vii. 21. 8: 137 
vii. 29. 5: 226 

11. 8.1: 180 
ix.4.1: 138 

XI. 14.6: 132 
xi.14.9: 174 
XVI. 1. 28: 13 
XVI. 1. 27: 153, 164 

681: 78 

Tabarl Ta'rlh (tr. Noldeke; Bosworth 1999) 

1 813-814 (2-3; 3-4): 55 

1 820 (18-19; 15-16: 154 

1 820 (21; 17): 71 

1 822 (23-4; 20-2): 165 

1 827-30 (33-40; 31-7): 20 

1 885 (140-1; 132): 99 

1 885-88 (140-7; 131-9): 99 

1 887 (143-4; 135): 99 

1 897 (162-3; 155-6): 99 

1 946 (220-1; 236-7): 113 

1 946-7 (221-5; 2 37-4° : 113 

1 957-8 (236-7; 251-2): 113 

1 992-4 (270-5; 301-5): 42 

1 994 ( 2 75; 305): 44. 2 3° 

1 999 (283-4; 3"-iz): 43. Z30 

1 1000 (287; 314): 227, 230 

1 1002 (290; 317): 44, 241 
Tac. Ann. 


11.56: 13 

vi.37: 17 

HEv.39.j-24: 225 

ep. 82: 224 
113: 224 
Theoph. Chron. 

A. M. 5815 (p. 20, 21-6 ed. de Boor): 89 

A. M. 5900 (p. 79 ed. de Boor): 96 

A. M. 6080 (p. 265, 24-6 ed. de Boor): 43 

A. M. 6081 (p. 266, 13 ed. de Boor): 44, 239 

A. M. 6118 (p. 327 ed. de Boor): 151 

A. M. 6119 (p. 327 ed. de Boor): 151 
Theoph. Simoc. 

m. 7: 42 

in. 8.1: 42 

in. 9. 9: 115 

iv. 1-2: 42— 11: 42 

iv.ii: 149 

iv.ii.i— 2: 122 

iv. 11. 11: 239 

iv. 12. 6: 42 

iv.13.1: 238 

iv.13.5-6: 239 

iv.13.7: 125 

iv.13.24: 43 

iv.14.1: 43, 237 

iv. 14.8: 43 

v.3.11: 44, 239 

v.6.10: 261 

v.11-12: 43, 240 

Index of sources 331 

v.13.7: 229 xii. 18: 78 

v.15.9— 10: 229 xii. 19: 120 

viii. 15. 7: 44, 241 xii. 23: 262 

Thuc. xii. 31: 125, 129 

1. 129. 3: 253 xii. 32: 129 

xxxi.13: 91 

Veg. Zos. 

Mil. in. 24: 75 1. 18-19: 79 

Verg. Aen. 1.19.1: 120 

1.279: 13, 53 1.50: 161 

vi. 853: 122 1.55.3: 162 

1.59.4: 161 

Zach. HE 1. 61: 161 

VII. 3 (22.15-22): 188 in. 26.4: 91 

VII. 3— 5 (22.22— 31. 1): 100 in. 31. 1: 134 

Zon. in. 31: 133 

xii. 15: 71 in. 32. 4: 120 

Index of translated sources 

Acta martyrum et sanctorum n, ed. P. Bedjan (Leipzig 1891, repr. 1968) 

pp. 135-6 31 (pp. 220-1) 

pp. 208—10 36 (p. 260) 

Agathangelos, History of the Armenians, ed. R.W. Thomson (Albany 1976) 

§§18—20 x6 (pp. 178-9) 

Agathias, ed. R. Keydell, CFHB (Berlin 1967) 

11. 27.8 35 (p. 253) 

11. 28.1-2 37 (p. 263) 

iv.26.3-7 9 (p. 95) 

rv.30.i-4 35 (p. 253) 

Ammianus Marcellinus, ed. W. Seyfarth (Leipzig 1970—8; repr. 1999) 

xvii. 5.3 34 (p. 232) 

xvii. 5.10 34 (p. 232) 

xvm. 5. 1-4 35 (pp. 251-2) 

xxiv.7.1 8 (p. 91) 

xxiv.7.3-6 8 (p. 91) 

xxv. 7.9-14 18 (pp. 131-2) 

xxvii. 12. 1-4 x6 (pp. 182-3) 

Cassius Dio, ed. U.B. Boissevain (Berlin 2nd edn 1955) 

Lxxx.3.1— 2 xx (p. 154) 

Chronicon Paschale, ed. L. Dindorf, CSHB (Bonn 1832) 

a. 628 (pp. 735-6) xi (pp. 148-9) 

Chronicle ofSe'ert. Histoire Nestorienne inedite. Chronique de Se'ert. Texte arabe avec traduction francaise 
par A. Scher (Paris 1971) [= Patrologia Orientalis. Tom. iv. Fasc. 3. no. 17] 

pp. 220-1 36 (p. 255) 

Codex lustinianus, ed. P. Kriiger (Berlin 9th edn 1954) 

iv.63.4 xS (pp. 204-5) 

Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, De ceremoniis aulae byzantinae, ed. J. Reiske, CSHB (Bonn 1829) 

89-90 (pp. 398-410) 35 (pp. 245-7) 

Collatio legum Mosaicarum et Romanarum, ed. Ph. Huschke and B. Kiibler (6th edn Leipzig 1927) 

xv. 3. 1-8 31 (pp. 216-17) 

Epic Histories. Patmut'iwn Hayots, ed. K. Patkanean (St. Petersburg 1883; repr. Delmar, New York 1984) 

vi. 1 x6 (pp. 184-5) 

Eusebius, Vita Constantini, ed. F. Winkelmann, GCS (Berlin 1975, revised edn 1991) 

iv.8 31 (p. 219) 

iv.13 31 (p. 219) 

Expositio totius mundi et gentium, ed. J. Rouge (Paris 1966) 

19 (PP- 153-4) i8 (p. 195) 

22 (p. 156) x8 (p. 199) 

Festus, ed. M.-P Arnaud-Lindet (Paris 1994) 

(p. 89) 


Index of translated sources 333 

Heliodorus, Aethiopica, ed. A. Colonna (Rome 1938) 

ix. 15.1-6 3 (pp. 63-4) 

Herodian, ed. C.R. Whittaker (London 1969—70) 

vi. 6.4-6 4 (pp. 71/74) 

vi. 2. 1-2 1 (p. 54) 

Joshua Stylites, ed. W. Wright (Cambridge 1883, repr. Amsterdam 1968) 

21 (pp. 249.15—23) 26 (p. 186) 

90 (pp. 309. 12-310. 3) 12 (pp. 100-1) 

Karter's inscriptions at Sar-Mashad, at Naqs-i Rustam, on the Ka'ba-i Zardust and at Naqs-i Rajab, ed. 
M. Back (Leyden 1978) 

pp. 405-10 30 (p. 213) 

pp. 414-16 30 (p. 215) 

pp. 419-28 30 (p. 215) 

Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum, ed. J. Creed (Oxford 1984) 

9.5-8 6 (pp. 84-5) 

Lydus, De magistratibus, ed. A.D. Brandy (Philadelphia 1983) 

111.52 27 (p. 191) 

Malalas, ed. H. Thurn, CFHB (Berlin 2000) 

xiv.23 (p.364) 19 (p. 135) 

Marcellinus Comes, Chronica Minora 11, ed. Th. Mommsen (Berlin 1894), repr. in B. Croke (Sydney 


a. 518 12 (p. 101) 

al-Mas'udl, Abu 'l-Hasan Altlbn al-Husayn, Murug ad-dahab wa-ma'adin al-gawhar, ed. Ch. Pellat, 
vol. 1 (Paris 1966) 

1 §586 29 (p. 211) 

Maurice, Strategikon, ed. T. Dennis (Vienna 1981) 

xi. 1 3 (pp. 64-5) 

Menander Protector, ed. C. Muller, FHG iv (Paris 1868) 

frg. 11 (pp. 206-17) 20/ 33 (pp. 138-43; p. 225) 

Ibn Miskawayh, Tagarib al-umam [The Book of Deeds ofXusro I Anosarvan] , ed. L. Caetani (Leyden 

p. 206, 1. 2 - p. 207, I.7 37 (pp. 264-5) 

Moses of Chorene. History of the Armenians. Moses Khorenats'i, Patmut'iwn Hayots', ed. M. Abelean 
and S. Yarut'iwnean (Tiflis 1913, repr. Delmar, New York 1981) 

in. 5 26 (p. 181) 

Peter the Patrician, ed. C. Muller, FHG iv (Paris 1868) 

frg. 13-14 (pp. 181-91) 17 (pp. 122-4) 

Pliny, Naturalis Historia, ed. R. Konig and G. Winckler (Munich 1979) 

v.88 23 (pp. 155-6) 

Priscus, ed. R. C. Blockley (Liverpool 1983) 

frg. 41. 1 (= FHG iv, p. 106) 27 (p. 193) 

Procopius, ed. P. Wirth (Leipzig 1963—4) 
De Aedificiis [Aed.] 

in. 3. 9-12 28 (p. 208) 

De Bella Gothico [BG] 

11. 2.1-3 35 (pp- MM) 

iv.15.1-2 3; (p. 249) 

iv.15.19-20 35 (p. 249) 

iv.17.1— 8 28 (p. 207) 

De Bella Persico 

1. 2.6-10 9 (pp. 94-5) 

1.2.11-15 19 (p. 136) 

I.3.I-5 10 (p. 97) 

1-5-1—3 11 (PP- 9M) 

1.11.6-11 12 (pp. 104—5) 

334 Index of translated sources 

De Bello Persico (cont.) 

I. ii. 29-30 ix (pp. 104-5) 

1. 17. 40-1 25 (pp. 169-70) 

1.17.45-8 25 (pp. 169-70) 

II.I.I-5 25 (p. 171) 

II. 2. 4— II 13 (pp. IO6—7) 

II. 5.I-4 13 (pp. IO7-8) 

11. 10.4-9 x 3 (PP- 108-9) 

11.14.1-4 36 (p. 261) 

Sdpur Inscription on the Ka'ba-i Zardust at Naqs-i Rustam (SKZ), ed. M. Back (Leyden 1978) and ed. 
Ph. Huyse (London 1999) 
§1 x (p. 56) 

§§6-7 5 (p- 77) 

§8 16 (p. 119) 

§§18-22 5 (p. 80) 

§51 30 (p. 214) 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae [SHA], ed. Ch. Samberger and W. Seyfarth (Leipzig 1997, 6th edn of 
vol 1; 4th edn of vol. 11) 

Alex. Sev. 56.2 4 (p. 75) 

56.5-8 4 (p. 75) 

57- 2 "3 4 (P- 75) 

Tyr. Trig. 15. 1-4 13 (p. 159) 

30.4-11 13 (pp. 161-2) 

30.24-6 13 (pp. 161-2) 

Socrates Scholasticus, ed. G.C. Hansen (Berlin 1995) 

vii. 8. 1— 20 32 (pp. 221-2) 

Suetonius, ed. M. Ihm (Leipzig 1908) 

Nero 13 x6 (pp. 176—7) 

al-Tabari, Abu Ga'far Muhammad Ibn Garir, Ta'rlh ar-rusul wa-l-muluk, ed. M.J. de Goeje, prima 
series, vol. n (Leyden 1881-2, repr. 1964) and C. E. Bosworth, The History of al-Tabari (Td ' rikh 
al-rusul wdl-muluk), vol. v: The Sdsanids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen (New York 


1 898 36 (p. 262) 

1 1001-2 15 (pp. 115-16) 

1 1002 33 (pp. 230-1) 

1 827-8 36 (p. 255) 

1 833-4 2.4 (p- 165) 

Theodoret, Historia Ecclesiastica [HE], ed. L. Parmentier, rev. G. Hansen, GCS (Berlin 1998) 

v.39.1-6 }X (pp. 223-4) 

Theophanes (Confessor), Chronographia I, ed. C. de Boor (Leipzig 1883, repr. 1980) 

p. 327 xi (p. 150) 

Theophylact Simocatta, ed. P. Wirth (Stuttgart 1972) 


14 (pp. 109-10) 


34 (p- 238) 

IV.I3.7— 21 

34 (p- 239) 

IV. 14. 2 

34 (p- 240) 


34 (PP- 236-7) 

V.14.I— 10 

33 (PP- 227-8) 

Will ofArdasir I, 

ed. M. 


raschi (JA 254 [1966]) 


2.9 (p- 211) 

Zosimus, ed. R Paschoud (Paris 1971-89) 
in.28.3 - 29.1 8 (pp. 91- 

Index of names 

Ablaas 222 

Abdas 223, 224 

Abramos 112, 113 

Acaclus 250 

Achaemenid(s) i, 17—18, 24, 33, 55—8, 60, 71, 118, 

213, 234, 253, 276-9 
Adam 148 
Adanarse 32 
Adrazanes 135 

Ahreman (Angra Mainyu) 215 
Ahura Mazda, see also Ohrmezd 24, 56, 93, 211, 

Aksumites 112— 13 
Alamanni 27 

Alamoundaros (al-Mundir III) 169-71, 271 
Alans no, 141, 144, 178, 188, 194 
Albanians 178, 185 
Alexander the Great 1, 15—17, 53—56, 220, 229, 

273, 278 
al-Harit V ibn Gabala, see also Arethas 170, 270 
Anahita 178 

Anastasius I 35, 37, 38, 103, 187—8, 194, 229, 270 
Anatolius, magister militum per Orientem 136 
Anthemius 204 

Antiochus, overseer of Constantly' palace 181 
Antiochus III 273 
Antiochus, Persian eunuch 96 
Antoninus 251—2 
Antony 13 

'Amr ibn 'AdI ibn Nasr ibn Rabi'a 165 
Apharban 122—5, 238 
Arab(s) 39, 42, 44, 48—9, 55, 66, 100, 107, no-n, 

145—6, 152, 157, 162—5, 168—70, 172, 205, 231, 

249, 268, 272, 279 
Arcadius 35, 94—6, 105, 223, 270 
Ardaslr I 18-22, 24, 47, 54-6, 71, 75, 154, 158, 163, 

165, 178—80, 186, 203, 211, 233-5, 255, 260, 268 
Ardaslr II 92—3 
Areobindus 135 
Arethas, see also al-Harit V ibn Gabala 170-1, 


Ariston 263 
Aristotle 263 
Ariobarzanes 12 

Arius 274 

Armenian(s) 174, 180, 182, 186—7 

Arsaces I 9 

Arsaces, (Arsak) 

Armenian king 132, 183-5, 269 

Arsacid(s) 9, 14, 16-19, 22, 54-5, 57, 128, 152-5, 

165, 178-80, 184-6, 189, 203, 234, 276, 281 
Arsane 84 
Artabanos II 17 

Artabanos IV 15, 54, 154, 178, 233—4 
Artaxerxes 54, 154 
Artaxios I 132 
Aryans 56, 77 
Asakures 183 

Aspacures, Iberian king 183 
Astyages 277 
Attila 193 

Augustus 13-14, 18, 56, 279 
Aurelian 25, 161— 4, 269 
Avars 41, 44—6, 66, 117, 272 
Azarmeduxt 48 
Azdaq 255 

Babylonians 229, 278 

Bahram I 25, 165, 215 

Bahram II 26-8, 165, 180, 212, 215—16, 269 

Bahram III 168 

Bahram V Gor 35, 98, 135—8, 186, 205, 222, 

224-5, 270 
Bahram VI Cobin 42—3, 47, 96, 123, 149, 

236—40, 271 
Balas 37, 98—9, 133, 187 
Barsaborsos 124 
Barsauma 36, 227 
Bedouin 165 
Bel 156 

Belisarius 40, 106, 171 
Bellona 91 



Index of names 

Boran 48 
Buddha 277 

Caesar 13 

Calliopius 101 

Caracalla 15—16, 158 

Cams 26, 269 

Chariclea 65 

Chazars 42, 46 

Chionites 90 

Cicero 278 

Claudius II 160, 162 

Cleopatra 163 

Constantine the Great 24, 33, 74, 88-9, 140, 149, 

176, 181—2, 2IO, 2l6, 2l8— 20, 269, 273-5, 

Constantine, praetorian prefect 246 
Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus 247, 248 
Constantius II 33-4, 60, 88—90, 149, 181-2, 193, 

199, 202, 216, 220, 232—3, 259 
Crassus 12, 273 
Cyril I 274 
Cyrus I 17, 54-5, 257, 277 

Darius I 57, 252 

Darius III 54, 55 

Demaratos 252 

Demetrius 255 

Demosthenes 263 

Diocletian 26—30, 32, 34, 74, 84—6, 90, 107, 122, 

124—6, 128—9, Y 7^>-> J 8o, 182, 190, 201—2, 204—6, 

216, 217-18, 259, 269, 280 
Dioscurus 274 

Eudoxia 137 

Eusebius, magister ojficiorupl 36 
Eustanthios tabularius 150 
Eutyches 274 

Faruhan 115 
Flavian(s) 14 
Francs 254 

, 122-5, r 3*> IZ 8, 180, 182, 

Gabala 170 
Galerius 28-9, 32, 

216, 238, 259, 269 
Gallienus 159-60, 162 
Gamasp 99, 187 
Gandzak 43 
Ghassanid(s) 39, 107, 144, 166, 169-171, 249, 

Gelimer 106 
Georgians 178 
German 77 
Gordian III 22, 25, 77—80, 119, 155, 268 

Goth(s) 77, 91, 106-7, x 35> J 6o, 162, 171, 183, 185, 

248—50, 254, 271 
Greeks 277 
Gregorius, Persian catholicos 229 

Hadrian 15, 74—5, 158 

Hannibal 132 

Hatraensian(s) 155 

Helios 65 

Hephthalite(s) 36—7, 41—2, 97—9, 133, 137, 187-8, 

193-4, 236, 270 
Heraclius 45-47, 109— 10, 116-118, 148, 150— 1, 

230, 272 
Herennianos 159 

Himyarites (Homerites) no, 112— 13 
Honk 178 
Honorius 204 

Hormizd- Ardasir, son of Sapur I 180 
Hormizd I 22, 25—6, 165, 180 
Hormizd II 32—4, 220, 260, 269 
Hormizd IV 42, 236, 237, 271 
Hormizd V 48 
Huns 41, 90, 97-8, 103, 107, 141, 145, 178, 188, 

192—4, 228, 250 

Iberians(s) 190 

Imru'ulqais 163, 165, 168-9, 2 69 

Indoscythian(s) 276 

Isdigusnas, see also Yazdgushnasp 249 

Iulii Aurelii Septimii 158 

Jesdegushnaph, see also Isdigusnas 139, 141 

Jesus 229, 274, 277 

Jovian 34, 82, 94, 131— 4, 182, 191— 2, 200, 202, 

John of Ephesus 226 
Julian 29, 34, 82, 90, 92-4, 131— 2, 134, 182, 192, 

196, 269 
Julianus, proconsul of Africa 216 
Jupiter 218 

Justin I 38, 104-5, 2 7° 
Justin II 41, 109-10, 113, 115 
Justinian I 38-41, 43, 103-4, 106-7, io 9> 

113, 138, 140, 142, 144—5, I 47 _ 8> 170-1, 194, 

201, 206—8, 225—6, 233, 248—9, 253, 264, 


Karter 27—8, 211-12, 214—16, 240, 269 

Kavadh I 37-8, 40, 98-100, 104, 106-7, I2 5> : 3^, 

170, 174, 186-8, 194, 226-7, 2 33> 2 7° 
Kavadh II Seroe 47, 148—51, 272 
Kavus 105 
Kidarite Huns 193 
Kirdir 57 
Kusan 27, 97, 178-9, 276 

Index of names 


Lahmid(s) 39, 48, 107, 113, 144, 165—6, 169—72, 

249, 270—1 
Lazes 193, 276 
Lazi 40 

Leo I 36, 137, 193, 270 
Licinius 24, 219, 280 
Ligurian 249 
Lucius Verus 15, 77, 156 

Ma 91 

Macedonian(s) 17, 54 

Macrinus 16 

Maecenas 217 

Mani 24, 215, 269, 277 

Manuel 184 

Marcian 274 

Marcus Aurelius yj 

Maruta, Mesopotamian bishop 220—3, 2 5° 

Maurice 42-3, 47, 65-6, 96, 115-16, 123, 125, 138, 

149, 227, 230, 237, 239, 240-1, 271 
Marusians 106 
Mary 229—30, 274 
Maxentius 24, 33 
Maximianus 216 
Maximinus Daia 128, 269 
Mazda 56 
Mazdak 99, 105—6 
Mazdakite(s) 43, 99, 105, 270 
Medes 54, 109, 136, 154, 278 
Mithras 93 
Mithradates II 9 
Muhammad 48, 55 
Muslim 47, 79, 113, 152, 279 
Muslim scholar(s) 55 

Nabataean 168, 255, 277 

Narse 28—9, 32, 84—9, 122—6, 128, 129, 130— 1, 

168—9, I ^°> 1 9°> 202 > 2 °5> 2I 6> 2 i8, 259, 269 
Narses, Roman general 45 
Nero 14, 177 
Nestorian(s) 270 
Nestonus 36, 226, 274 
Nikephoros I 150 

Numan ibn Mundhir, Lahmid ruler 113 
Numan III, Lahmid ruler 172 
Numerianus 26, 74 

Odaenathus 23, 25, 158—60, 162, 165, 268, 269 
Ohrmezd, see also Ahura Mazda 215 
Olorus 263 
Orobazos 12 

Pabag 56 
Papas 183—4 
Parnian(s) 9 

Parthian(s) 9, 12—18, 20, 54-5, 58, 77, no, 124, 
152-4, 156-8, 165, 176-80, 190, 193, 196, 
202-3, 2IO > 2I 4> 2 33> 2 59> 2 73> 2 -?6, 279, 281 

Peroz I 36-7, 97-8, 133, 187, 193-4, 22 7> 2 7° 

Peroz II 48 

Persian(s) 17 

Peter Roman ambassador 139, 143 

Peter magister officiorum 141 

Peter magister militum praesentalis 141 

Peter the Patrician 6, 248 

Phaiak, Persian commander 150 

Pharazman 101 

Philippicus 117 

Philip the Arab 22, jj, 79—81, 119—22, 155, 190 

Phoenician(s) 65 

Phocas 44—5, 116, 240, 241, 271 

Phraates III 12 

Phraates IV 13 

Phrygian (s) 86 

Plato 263 

Pompey 12 

Priscianus 264 

Probus 25, 124, 229, 269 

Proclus 104 

Procopius, magister militum per Orientem 135 

Procopius, usurper 131 

Pusai 260, 261 

Rumiyuzan, Sasanian commander 115, 230 
Rustam 48 

Sahak 186 

Sahin 115 

Sahrbaraz 45—8 

Saka 27 

Salutius 191 

Sapur I 21-5, 27, 29, 56-7, 59, 77-87, 108, 
119-22, 135, 155, 158-60, 162-3, 165, 168, 180, 
190— 1, 211, 213-15, 226, 254—7, 2 59 — 60, 262, 
268, 277 

Sapur II 32-4, 60, 82, 88-90, 94-5, 123, 131-4, 

149, 182-5, !9 2 > 2 OI-2, 219-21, 223, 232-3, 25O, 
252, 259-60, 269 

Sapur III 34, 185 

Saracen(s) 39, 141, 146, 162, 164, 170, 172, 249, 

Sarmatae 280 
Sasan 178 

Sauromaces, Iberian king 183 
Scythian 65, 276, 279—80 
Seirem (Shirin) 227-30 
Seleucid 9, 75, 156, 273, 279 
Seleucus I 156 

Septimius Severus 15, 18, 153, 156, 259 
Serae/ Seres 207 

33 8 

Index of names 

Sergius 227, 253-4 

Severus Alexander 18—19, 54, 71, 74-7, 155, 268 

Shirin, see Seirem 

Sicorius Probus 124, 125, 129, 201 

Simon Bar Sabba e 220-21 

Siyavush 105 

Slavs 66, 117 

St Paul 224 

St Sergius 229 

Sulla 12 

Surenas 141 

Suren(es) no, 185 

Surmak 186 

Tamsapor 252 

Tansar 211 

Theagenes 65 

Theodora 149 

Theodore, brother of Heraclius 150 

Theodosius 226, 250, 270 

Theodosius I 34-5, 94-6, 105, 203, 275 

Theodosius II 35, 135-6, 138, 193, 204-5, 2 7° 

Theodosius, son of Maurice 44 

Thucydides 263 

Tiberius 17 

Tiberius II 41 

Timolaos 159 

Timesitheus 22 

Tiridates, Armenian king 14, 22, 176—7 

Tiridates III (the Great) 27, 128, 179—82, 269 

Trajan 14-15, 18, 77, 153, 278 

Transcaucasian(s) 189 

Turks 41—3, no— n, 114— 15, 206, 236, 271 

Vahballathus 160 

Valars 178 

Valens 89, 131, 183-5, 1 9 z 

Valerian 23, 25, 28—9, 77, 80—4, 86, 123, 125, 130, 

135, 159, 254—6, 268 
Vandals 106, 171 

Vitiges, Gothic king 106, 248, 271 
Vologaeses I 177 
Vrt'anes, Armenian bishop 181 

Xusro, Armenian king 178, 179, 180, 181, 184, 185 
Xusro I Anosarvan 38—43, 99, 101, 104-9, 111 ~ I 3> 

115, 122, 138—40, 144, 148—9, 170— 1, 194, 206, 

225—6, 248—9, 253—4, 261—5, 270—1 
Xusro II Parvez 42-3, 47, 65—7, 96, 115— 18, 123, 

125, 148-50, 172, 224, 227-30, 236-7, 239-41, 

257, 265, 271 
Xusro III 48 
Xusro IV 48 
Xusro V (=Tarruxzadh-Xusro) 48 

Yazdgard I 35, 94—6, 105, 191, 205, 221, 222, 223, 

224, 225, 250, 270 
Yazdgard II 35-6, 98, 136-7, 187, 191, 270 
Yazdgard III 48, 253, 272 
Yazdgushnasp 139, 141, 247—9 

Zarathustra/Zoroaster 210, 277, 281 
Zeno 36, 133—4, ^7> !94> 270 
Zenobia 25, 160-163, 2 ^9 
Zich, Persian noble 139, 141, 143 
Zopyrus 252 
Zruanduxt 184 

Index of place names 

Aborrhas 107 

Adiabene 15, 86, 261 

Adrianopel 91 

Aegean Sea 54—5 

Aethiopia 65 

Afghanistan 98, 276 

Africa 113, 216 

Agabana 183 

Ahwaz 255 

Aksum 112, 207 

al-Anbar 79 

Albania 57, 144 

al-Basrah 228 

al-'Iraq 152 

Aleppo 108 

Alexandria 45, 115, 118, 161, 217, 273—4 

al-GazIra 152 

al-Rumiyya 262 

Amida 37, 89-90, 100— 1, 103, 116, 242, 244, 250, 

269, 271 
Amu-Darja 98 
Anastasiopolis 101, 103 
Anath 164, 196 
Anatolia 255 
Aneran 57, 213, 215 
Aneransahr 213 
Ankyra 161 
an-Namara 168 
Antinoe 113—14, 
Antioch 22-3, 36, 38, 71, 74, 84, 92, 101, 108—9, 

117, 139, 156, 161, 184, 213, 223, 229, 246, 255-7, 

261—2, 271—3, 280 
Antisapur 255 
Arabia 5, 19, 32, 49, 56, in— 12, 146, 152, 156, 158, 

161-4, 168—72, 200, 207, 231, 271, 276—9 
Arabian peninsula 19, 41, 48, 113, 168 
Aral Sea 75 
Araxes 132 
Armenia 5, 9, 14—15, 19, 22, 27-9, 33—4, 37, 

40, 42-3, 46-7, 49, 56—7, 6o, 66, 84, 86, 

89—90, 100, no, 115— 17, 120-1, 124, 126—8, 

132-3, 138, 142, 144-5, : 54> I 73 _ 4> 176-88, 

190-1, 202, 205, 208, 233, 242, 259, 268, 

269-72, 276 
Artashat 132 

Artaxata 132, 145, 191, 204-5 
Arzanene 124, 126, 131, 259 
Asia 54, 82, 97, 156, 276, 279, 281 
Asia Minor 9, 19, 45—6, 55—7, 116— 18, 151, 161— 2. 

174, 213, 252, 271-2, 277 
Asorestan 178 
Asproudis 124-5 
Assyria 15, 142, 221, 261, 277 
Asthianene 208 
Atropatene 188 
Asurestan 22, 77, 268 
Athens 224, 264, 270 
Ayrayrat 184 
Azerbaijan 42, 128, 148 

Babylon 66, 118, 153, 156, 252, 259, 277 

Bactria 36 

Baghdad 79 

Balasgan 57 

Balkan 117 

Barbalissos 22, 40, 268 

Batnai 103, 196, 202-3 

Belesi Biblada 196 

Beroia 108 

Berrhoea 164 

Berthemais 228 

BethAramaye 212,228 

Beth Huzaye 221 

Bet Lapat 36, 270 

Bezabde 103, 198—9, 250 

Biraparch 191 

Bisapur 77—9, 81, 121, 256-7 

Bithynia 60, 154 

Black Sea 40, 105, 174, 188, 190, 196, 202, 249, 

276, 279, 280 
Bostra 168, 276—7 
Byzantium 249 



Index of place names 

Caesarea 116— 17, 262 

Cappadocia 12, 23, 46, 57, 71, 91, 116-17, 192, 

246, 255, 262, 268, 270—1 
Caria 54 
Carrhae 12-13, : 9> 22 ' 2 ^> 78, 80, 196, 244, 259, 

268, 273 
Carthage 116 

Castra Maurorum 131, 197—9 
Caspian Gates 38, 141, 178, 188, 193—4 
Caspian Sea 9, 46, 174, 178, 188—9, l 9^ 202 > 2 79 
Caucasian Gates 188, 191-2 
Caucasus 14, 22, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 46, 57, 98, 

no, 120, 128, 137, 141, 144—5, : 47> : 74' 178— 9, 

188, 189-94, 202, 238, 270, 276 
Central Asia 36, 196 

Chaboras/Chabur (al-Habur) 15, 107, 199 
Chalcedon 36, 46, 116— 17, 161, 226, 229, 246, 

272, 274 
Chalcis 39 
Chiliocomum 132 
China 156, 195, 200, 202—3, 2 ^o 
Chorzane 208 

Cilicia 23, 34, 46, 57, 108, 117, 255, 262, 268 
Cizre 198 
Colchis 276 
Constantia 38, 89 
Constantina 103 
Constantinople 43, 45—6, 96, 109, 116-17, 131, 

148, 150, 191, 222, 226, 246, 248, 249, 272, 

¥ 2 74 
Cor 178 
Cordissos 101 
Cyprus 259 
Cyrrhus 223 

Damascus 31, 49, 117, 156, 170, 272 

Danube 185, 192, 279 

Daphne 84 

Dara 38, 40-1, 43, 100-4, I 3 1 ' I 3^, I4 2 ~3> I45 _ 7' 

201, 228, 241, 245, 248 
Dara-Anastasioupolis 38, 201 
Darabgerd 121 
Dariel pass 178, 188 
Dastagird 46—7 
Deir Mahraq 255 
Derbend pass 178 
Delphi 65, 193 
Derbend 141, 188 
Djebel Smdjar 89 
Dnieper 279 
Don 279 
Dsungara 36 
Du Kar 172, 271 
Dura-Europos 23, 163—4 
Dvln 46, 115, 145, 174 

Edessa 23, 40, 80, 101, 103, 133, 134, 150, 152, 164, 

187, 196, 199, 203, 244, 268, 271 
Egypt 28, 45, 47, 49, 56, 113-15, 117-18, 151, 

161-2, 169, 272 
Ekbatana 280 
Ekeieac' 184 
Eleia 89 

Emesa 23, 65, 161 
Ephesus 36, 226, 274 
Eran 57, 215, 234 
Eransahr 213 
Ethiopia 112 
Euphrates 12-15, 22— 3' 4°> 7^, 79, 9 2 , 107—8, 

116-17, 126, 129, 146, 153, 164, 173, 176, 196, 

200, 208, 242, 245 
Europe 54-5, 82, 181 

Far East 195, 196, 200, 207, 242 
Fars 23, 256, 260 
Firuzabad 234 

Gablya 170 

Galatia 246 

Gallia 279 

Gandzak 4.6, 148, 150 

Ganzaka 240 

Georgia 46, 57, 66, 129, 190 

Greece 117 

Gulf 116, 205 

Gundesapur 255—6 

Halys 277 

Hamadan 280 

Harran 196 

Hatra 19—21, 23, 152-6, 158, 163—5, r 9^, 199, 2 68 

Hauran 31 

Helenopolis 246 

Hellespont 161 

Hiaspis 252 

Hierapolis 22, 108 

Higaz 165 

Hileia 89 

Hlra 48, 113, 152, 165 

Horasan 196 

Huzistan 23, 99, 221, 256 

Hyrkania 191 

Iberia 38, 40, 106, 124, 128-9, T 44 _ 5' x 74> 183, 

188—90, 192, 202 
Iberian Gates 188—9 
Illyna 252 
Illyricum 279 
India 19, 36, no, 112, 145, 158, 174, 195—6, 200, 

202-3, 207, 242, 276-7 
Indian Ocean 200 

Index of place names 


Ingilene 124, 126, 128, 133 
Ionia 54 
Iran 16—18 
Iraq 165, 255, 261 
Istakhr 48, 178, 276, 278 
Italy/Italia 39—41, 171, 276, 279 
Iuroeipaach 191, 193—4 
Iustiniana Nea 103 

Jerusalem 45, 46, 49, 117, 150-1, 230, 272 
Jordania 168 

Kallinikos 116, 144, 202—5, 2 -7 I 

Karduene 124, 126, 131-2 

Karh 260 

Karha d-Ladan 260 

Karrhai 80, 160 

Karun 256 

Kermanshah 92 

Khuzistan 228, 229 

Kirkesion 107, 108, 116, 164, 271 

Kitharizon 208 

Kolchis 129, 190 

Ktesiphon 19, 22, 26, 47—8, 82, 91—2, 107, 109, 

117, 148, 152, 156, 159—60, 162, 178, 184, 

229—30, 261, 268—72 
Kyros 202 

Langobard(s) 41 

Lazika 38, 40— 1, 46, 105, 138, 140, 142—4, 147, 

249, 271 
Ligurian 250 
Lycaonia 268 
Lydia 191 

Macedonia 60 

Mada'in 262 

Madlna 48 

Maeotic Lake (Sea of Azov) 46, 188 

Maisan 255 

Marmara 54, 57, 60, 217 

Martyropolis 43, 103 

Marw Habur 255 

Mauretania 106 

Media 71, %6, 97, 124—5, I2 &> J 3 2 ' r 54> ^U 

Media Atropatene 128 

Mediterranean 196, 202, 280 

Memphis 118 

Merv 49, 280 

Mesene 261 

Mesopotamia 9, 12, 15, 19—21, 23, 26, 32—3, 40, 
42, 47, 49, 54-6, 60, 71, 75, yS, 80, 89-90, 98, 
100-1, 103, 107-8, n6, 120, 128-9, I 3 I_ 3' I 5 I_ 5> 
159—65, 169, 178, 196, 199-201, 221, 228, 233, 
242, 244, 250—1, 254, 268-9, 2 7 I_I > 2 8o 

Middle East 45, 48-9, 53, 57, 70, 86 

Milvian Bridge 33 

Mislk 22, 25, 77-80, 119, 121, 268 

Mons Masius 198 

Moxoene 131 

Mudar 165 

Myrina 252 

Nabataea 168 

Nahr Ghiran 89 

Naqs-i Rajab 213, 215 

Naqs-i Rustam 56-8, 77, 80, 119, 213-15, 234, 278 

Narasara 89 

Narbas 47 

Neapolis 196 

Near East 48-9, 53, 57, 70, 86, in, 118, 174, 244 

Nicaea 154, 246, 274 

Nicomedia 123, 246 

Nihavand 48—9, 272 

Nikephorion 92, 196 

Nikiu 118 

Niniveh 46, 47, 272 

Nisibis 16, 19, 22, 30, 32, 34, 37—8, 41, 71, 78, 
88-90, 92, 100— 1, 103, 124—5, I2 9> r 3 I— 4> I 4 I > 
145-6, 159—60, 196, 199—201, 203—5, 220 ' 2 4 2 > 
244-5, 2 48, 255, 268, 269 

North Africa 106, 171, 257 

Northern Mesopotamia 103 

Nubia 115 

Nymphios 126 

Oriens 279 
Orontes 246 
Osrhoene 244 

Paeania 263 

Paikuli 169, 190 

Palestine 32, 47, 49, 115, 117, 150— 1, 160, 174, 219, 

Palmyra 19, 23, 25, 31, 152, 155—61, 163—4, l 9&> 

199, 203, 268-9, 2 ^o 
Paris 34 
Parthava 9 

Parthia 71, 153, 157, 254 
Pasargadai 278 
Pelousion 118 
Peroz-Sapur 79, 119, 212 
Persepolis 56, 92, 276, 278 
Persia 66 

Persian Gulf 19, 152, 158, 160, 196, 200, 202 
Persis 254, 276, 278 
Petra 40, 276—7 
Phaeno 217 
Phaliga 196 
Pharangion 174 


Index of place names 

Philadelphia 191 
Pisidia 246 
Pontic coast 160 
Proconnesus 217 

Qadislya 48—9, 272 

Rabl'a 165 

Ravenna 106 

Red Sea 56, 112, 170, 200 

Rehimene 131 

Rhandeia 177 

Rhesaina 22, 78—9, 116, 268, 271 

Rhesonchosron 228 

Rhine 192 

Samarkhand 280 

Samarra 92 

Sar Mashad 213, 215 

Satala 29, 86, 125, 269 

Satara 89 

Satt al-Arab 19, 158, 203 

Seleucia 48, 156, 220 

Seleucia-Ktesiphon 15, 196, 220, 223, 259, 

Seran 202 
Sergiopolis 108 
Serinda 207 
Sicgara 89 
Sinai 31, 279 

Singara 15, 34, 89-90, 103, 131-2, 153, 199, 269 
Sisara 89 
Sod Sapor 255 
Sogdia 36 

Sostar (Shushtar) 255—6 
Sophanene 133, 208 
Sophene 124, 126 
South Arabia 109, 112-13 
South-Western Arabia 113 
Soura 108 
Sparta 252 

Spasinu Charax 19, 158, 203 
Stagira 263 
Stahr 178 
Strymon 33, 60 

Sura 31 

Susiane 254 

Syr-Darja 98 

Syria 12, 19, 22-3, 31, 39, 41, 46, 49, 54-7, 71, 86, 
92, 100, 103, 108, 115, 117-18, 151-2, 156—7, 
163-4, 169-70, 174, 180, 186, 192, 196, 198-9, 
201, 205, 208, 213, 220, 226, 228, 242, 244, 
246, 253, 255, 259, 261—2, 268, 271—2, 280 

Syrian Desert 19, 146 

Taq-i Bustan 66-y, 69, 92—3 

Tarim Basin 36 

Tarim River 280 

Tarsus 272 

Telia 100 

Theodosioupolis 38, 103, 188, 208 

Theoupolis 109 

Thessaloniki 86, 88 

Thrace 249, 259 

Thracian Panion 193 

Tiflis 46, 188 

Tigris 15, 23, 26, 48, 54, 76, 92, 124, 126—7, I 3 1 ' 

156, 173, 196, 197—200, 205, 208, 242, 244—5, 

252, 255, 261 
Toummara 91 
Transcaucasus 188 
Tur 'Abdln 198-9 
Turkey 198 
Tyrus 280 
Tzon 141 

Ukbura 255 

Veh-Antiok- Sapur 256 
Veh-Antiok-Xusro 109, 261, 271 
Veh-Sapur 260 
Versailles 256 

Yarmuk 49, 272 

Yemen 41, no— 11, 113, 271 

Yerevan 132 

Zabdikene 124, 126, 131 
Zeugma 153, 196, 199 
Zintha 124, 128 

General index 

Achaemenid Empire i, 55, 118 
Achaemenid goals 60, 118 
Achaemenid legacy 16, 17, 24, 58, 234 
Achaemenid royal inscriptions 58 n. 24 
Achaemenid succession 18, 55—62 
Achaemenid territories 60, 71 
Achaemenid tradition {see 'Achaemenid 

adaptation (artistic) 257—58 
address (between rulers) 138, 140 n. 115; 149 n. 

149, 232 
Adiabenicus maximus 86 
adoption (see also 'guardianship and 'family of 

kings') 104, 239 n. 28 
aeramentum etferrum 199 n. 129 
ambassadors 106-7, 114, 123, 123 n. 14, 138-9, 

141, 193, 204, 219, 227, 245—9 
amicitia 13, 15, 128 n. 43, 273 
Arabia policy 152—72 
Arabic sources (character of) 165 n. 88 
archapetes 124 
archers 113, 164 
architects 255—7 
Arianism 274 
armament 63-9 
Armenia problem 94, 173-88 
Armeniacus maximus 86 
Armenia Maior 176, 185, 208 
Armenia Minor 176, 185, 208 
army {see 'armament' and 'tactics') 
art (Sasanian) 66, 82 
artists {see also 'craftsmen') 23 
aurei parens saeculi 29 

barbaros 1 n. 3 

battle of Mislk 77—9, 119, 121 
battle techniques 63—9 
biographies (see Historia Augusta) 
bishops 221—4, 227, 2 44> 250-1, 2 55 
border areas ^y, 146, 203, 208—9, 2 43 
border cities 100—4, n 6 

border regions (see also 'border areas') 38, 137, 

border traffic 203 n. 158, 205, 251 
borderline(s) 126-8, 145, 171 
breviaria 132, 273 
brotherhood of kings (see 'family of kings') 

calendars 143 n. 126 

camel riders 164 

camps (Roman) 197—9 

captives (see also prisoners') 124, 130, 151, 255—7, 

capture of Valerian 80—4, 86, 123, 125, 130, 

caravan 234 
caravan cities 154, 199 
caravan route(s) 19, 129, 152, 200 
Caspian Gates (see portae Caspiae) 
catafractarii 75 n. 17, 75 n. 18, 273 
catholicos 186 

Caucasian Gates (see portae Caucasiae) 
Caucasian passes 188—92 
cavalry (Sasanian) 64-5, 75, 135 n. 93, 164 
centre(s) of trade 156, 163—4, 199— 200, 202 n. 

150, 203, 205 
ceremonial (see also 'diplomatic protocol') 245—8 
Chaboras-Singara line 15 
channels of transmission 209 
characterisation (of emperors) 74 
Christian (vocabulary) 149 
Christian Byzantium 147; 151, 218, 220, 230 
Christian Church 212, 223 
Christian communities 223 
Christian population (in the Persian 

Empire) 226, 255 
Christianisation 33, 105 n. 151, 128, 172 
Christianity 23—4, 33, 35, 112, 180, 210 — 31, 275 
Christianity (in Armenia) 180—3 
Christianity (promotion of) 218 
Christianity (spread of) 112, 261 n. 76 
Christians 23, 117, 208, 254 



General index 

Christians (in the Persian Empire) 24, 33, 35—6, 
137, 182, 218 n. 51, 219, 221—5, 225—31, 2 3° 

Christians (persecution of) 35, 112, 219—21, 224—5 

Christological controversies 35, 226—31, 273—4 

Chronicon Paschale 148—9, 150 

Church officials (see also 'bishops') 23, 223 

churches (building of) 222—3 

clergy (see also 'priesthood') 224 

clibanarii 66, 75 n. 18, 274 

client kings (see also 'vassal kings') 170 

client kingdoms 144, 153 

climatarches no 

climate 244 

codes of honour 136 

Codex Iustinianus 204 

coercendi intra terminos (see also intra terminos 
imperii) 15 

coins 29, 76-7, 121, 161 

Collatio legum Mosaicarum et 
Romanarum 216-18 

colonies (of prisoners of war) 259 

comes 274-5 

comes commerciorum 203-4, 206, 274-5 

comes foederatorum 135, 275 

comes (sacrarum) largitionum 203 n. 158, 252, 275 

Constantinian Revolution 33, 210, 275 

conversion 222 n. 68 

coronation 48 

corrector totius Or ientis 160 

Council of Chalcedon 36,226 

Council of Ephesus 36,226 

couriers 141 

craftsmen 255-7, 260 

crises (domestic) 119 

cultural exchange 4, 262 

cultural interest 263—5 

cultural policy 2 

customs 208, 217 

customs duties 145-6, 200-1, 206 

customs posts 141, 145—6 

dastgerd 214 

defection 32, 142 

defence (payments for) 137 

deportations (of prisoners) 132 n. 73 

deportations (see also 'resettlement') 23, 109, 151, 

226, 226 n. 86, 254-63 
dikastai (see 'judges') 
diplomacy 245-54 
diplomatic interaction 119, 134, 136 
diplomatic protocol 12, 122, 126, 138—44, 233 
diplomatic solutions 119-51 
diplomats (see also ambassadors') 32, 106, 146 
disintegration (of Sasanian Empire) 47 
divine support 143, 239 

documents 144 

downfall (of Sasanian Empire) 48, 118 

duel 81, 87 

dux 275 

duxArmeniae 208 n. 182 
dux Mesopotamiae 251 
dynasty (see 'Sasanian dynasty 1 ) 
dyophysitism 274 

economic clause(s) 129 

economic interests 19 

economy 195-209 

Edict against the Manichaeans 28, 216-18 

eirene peras ouk echousa (see also 'eternal peace' 

and peace treaty of 532') 171 
engineers 23 

envoys (see ambassadors') 
epitomes 89 

equality (between rulers) 238-41 
espionage 32, 146, 221, 245—54 
eternal peace (of 532) (see also 'peace treaty 

of 532') 26, 38-9, 107, 171, 174, 264 
eurocentrism 2, 5, 53 
exarchos 116, 158 

exchange of goods (see 'goods, exchange of) 
exchange of information 242—65 
expansion (Islamic) 49 
expansion (of Roman rule) 9 n. 6 
expansion (of Sasanian rule) 9, 53, 100, 117 
expansion (Parthian) 190 
expansion (Roman policy of) 28 
expansion (Sasanian policy of) 28 

false doctrines 215 

family (royal Sasanian) 86, 99, 124, 129—30 
'family of kings' 45, 141, 149, 232—41 
father-son relationship (see 'family of kings' and 

fire cult (see also 'fire sanctuaries') 182, 213 
fire sanctuaries 57, 213, 215 
fiscal advantages 146 
fixed prices 29 n. 6y, 200 
foedus (see 'peace treaty') 275 
foedus aequum 275 
foedus iniquum 275 
foreign policy (programmatic) 56—69 
foreign policy (programmatic, Arsacid) 17 
foreign policy (Roman) 12—13 
foreign policy (Sasanian) 53, 60, 85, iOO, n8, 133, 

formation 65 
fortification (of border) 15 n. 40, 37—8, 100-4, 

107 n. 162, 130— 1, 137, 142, 244, 248 
fortresses 19-20, 31, 37, 40, 103, 107-8, 107 n. 

162, no, 120, 124, 128, 131, 193-4 

General index 


foundations (of cities) 109, 256, 261—2 
frontier (protection of) 2, 34, 188-95 
fugitives of war 146—7 

geographic conditions 242 

goals (Sasanian) {see foreign policy) 

goods (exchange of) 141-2, 145—6, 163—4, : 95 — 6> 

199—200, 202, 205 
guarantee clauses 146—7 
guardianship {see also 'family of kings') 94—6, 239 

hierarchical structures (religious) 212 
Historia Augusta 26, 29, 74-6, 159—61 
historiography 179 n. 30, 186 
Holy Cross 47, 49, 117, 151, 230 
hostages 98 
Huns 141, 194 
hunting 66 
hyparch 191 

iconography {see Visual representations'; 'visual 

ideology 2, 17, 53, 60, 232 
imperial propaganda {see also 'Sapur 

Inscription') 79 
imperium maius 160, 276 
imperium sine fine 13, 53 
incense 195 
incense route 276 

information (exchange of) 173, 242—64 
intermarriage 208 
international arena 119 
international balance of power 39 
international law 13, 62, 70, 241 
international trade {see also 'trade') 203 
interpreters 140, 140 n. 112, 144, 249-50, 253—4 
intra terminos imperii 13 
investiture 93 
Iranisation 211, 213 
Islam (advance of) 47—9, 172, 231 
ins Italicum 158 
ivory 195 

Jews 208, 210 n. 184, 215—16, 225, 254, 259 
judges 142 

Ka'ba-i Zardust 56-9, 77, 80, 119 

Khagan 4.6 

King of kings 57, 232 

kingship (Sasanian) 98-9, 210—16, 224 

Ktesiphon oracle 26 

language(s) 1, 5, 58, 144, 208, 219 n. 57, 249, 253 

n. 41 
laws (Sasanian) 229 

legal action 142, 146 

legitimacy (of rule) 43, 60, 232-41 

legitimacy of succession 45,47 

limes {see also 'borderhne(s)' and 'frontier') 32, 

127, 163 n. 71, 244 
luxury goods 19, 156, 195, 202 

Magians 186, 212-13, 2i6, 222, 224, 227, 

magoi {see 'Magians') 
magister 245-8, 277 
magister equitum 277 
magister memoriae 125 
magister militum per Orientem 135—6, 142, 145, 

magister militum praesentalis 104 n. 146, 138, 141, 

143, 277 
magister ojficiorum 36,141,277 
magistrianus 246 
Manichaeism 24, 215—18, 2.77—8 
Manichaeans (persecution of) 28, 218, 277-8 
markets 196, 202, 208 
martyrology 220-1, 259 
martyrs 259 
marzban 186 
maxima imperia 13 

Mazdaism {see also 'Zoroastrianism') 180 
Mazdakism {see also 'Mazdakite movement') 105 
Mazdakite movement 37, 43, 99, 105 
Medicus maximus 86 
merchants 112, 141— 2, 146, 174, 196, 199—200, 

203, 205 
mobility (of the army) 86 
monarchy (Sasanian) {see also 'kingship') 37, 138, 

monks 208 

monophysites {see 'monophysitism') 
monophysitism 226—7, 2 3°> 2 74 
monopoly 200 

natio molestissima 241 
national literature(Persian) 264 
national security (linked with foreign trade) 146 
naxarars 176 
negotiations 64, 138—44 
Nestorianism 36, 273-4 
Nestorians 36, 226—7, 2 3°' 2 73 — 4 
nobility (Armenian) 127, 176, 180— 1, 186 
nobility (Parthian) 179 
nobility (Persian) 35, 99, 223, 229 
nomadic invasions 120 
nomadic peoples 190, 192, 194 
nomadic population 244 
nomadic tribes 9, 97 n. 104, 98, 103— 4, 163, 


General index 

Occident vs. orient {see also 'West vs. East 1 ) 2, 173 
oracles 1 
orthodoxy 216 

Padosban 115, 115 n. 207 
Paikuli (Inscription of) 169, 190 
Palmyrenicus maximus 161 
panegyric literature 29, 76 
Partbicus maximus 25—6, 76, 120 
partition of Armenia 184—6, esp. 185 n. 56 
patrons (kings, of religion) 211, 213 
pax fundata cum Persis 120— 1 
payments {see also 'tribute' and 

'protection') 38-9, 98, 120, 137, 140, 143 n. 

128, 193-4 
peace treaty {see foedus) 
peace treaty of 244 22, 119-22, 190 
peace treaty of 298 30-2, 88, 122, 122 n. 18, 

122-31, 200—2, 205 
peace treaty of 363 34, 131-5, 202 
peace treaty of 422 135—8 
peace treaty of 441 137-8 
peace treaty of 562 41, 109-10, 114, 138-48, 171, 

227, 248, 249 n. 24, 41 
peace treaty of 628 148—51 
Persian Church 223 
Persicus maximus 25-6, 76, $6, 120 
Persikos megistos 25 n. 36 
philosophers 254 
philosophy 263-5 
phylarch 168 n. 92, 169, 170, 278—9 
phylarchos {see 'phylarch') 
portae Caspiae 38, 188, 194 
portae Caucasiae 188—9, J 9 2 
portae Hiberiae 188 

praefectus praetorio {see 'praetorian prefect') 
praefectus praetorio Orientis 191 n. 83 
praefectus praetorio Orientis 204 
praefectus urbis 246 
praetorian prefect 79-80, 279 
precious stones 195 
priesthood (hereditary) 214 
priesthood (Zoroastrian) 23, 27, 35, 99, 214—15, 

215 n. 30, 277 
priestly cast 214 
priests (Christian) 23 
princeps bonus 75 

prisoners {see also captives') 23, 120 n. 4 
products {see 'goods' and 'luxury goods') 
propaganda 4, 215 
protection no, 163, 188-95 
protocol {see 'diplomatic protocol') 
'proxy policy' 169—72 
proxy war 170 n. 99 
pyreion {see also 'fire sanctuaries') 223—4 

ransom 119, 120 n. 4 

rebel(lion) 45, 96, 98, 149, 236, 239-40 

reforms (in Persia) 38—9, 43, 138 

refugees {see also 'fugitives of war') 254 

regiones Transtigritanae 126—9, I 3 I > x 33 

relics 229 

religion 27, 33, 95, 99, 147, 208, 210—31 

religion (and kingship) 210-13 

religion (official) 214 

religious change {see also 'Constantinian 

Revolution') 216 
religious communities 210 n. 184 
religious policy (Roman) 2, 24, 217 n. 39 
religious policy (Sasanian) 2, 116, 187 n. 65, 217 

n. 39 
religious restoration 218 
religious tolerance (Sasanian) 24, 116, 210— n, 

renovation imperii 107 
reparations 146-7 
Res gestae divi Augusti 56 
Res gestae divi Saporis {see also 'Sapur 

Inscription') 56, 119—20 
resettlement {see also 'deportations') 132, 201, 

resources 69, 174 
respect 232 
revolt {see 'rebellion') 
rock reliefs 4, 77—81, 77 n. 17, 92-3, 121— 2, 

rock tombs 58 
royal image 236 n. 15 
royal palace 257 

sacellarius 246 
sacrae litterae 140, 143 
Sahnama 43 n. 152; 82—4 
sanctuaries (Zoroastrian) {see also 'fire 

sanctuaries') 46 
Sapur Inscription 24, 56—9, 77—80, 119, 121, 215 
Sasanian dynasty 48, 234—7 
satrap 279 
scholars 23 

scrinium (barbarorum) 246 
Scriptores Historiae Augustae {see also Historia 

Augusta) 74—6 
Scriptores Historiae Augustae 159, 161— 2 
Seleucid kingdom 9 
self-representation 4 
shared interests 2, 173—209 
shift of trade 196 
siege(craft) 64, 91 
silentiarius 247 
silk people 207 n. 179 
Silk Road 156, 195—6, 202 n. 147, 280 

General index 


silk worms (breeding of) 207 

silk 114, 195, Z02— 3, 207 

smuggling 146 

society (Armenian) 174, 176 

society (Persian) 38 

solidus 280 

sources 3-4 

spices 195 

spies (see 'espionage') 

standards 12, 84 

Strata Diocletiana 31 

strategic location(s) 154-5, l 5& 

succession (in Persia) 28, 47, 236—7 

superstition (see also 'false doctrines') 216 

supplies 91-2, 196, 252 

supreme god 218 

symbols 4, 79 

Synod of Bet Lapat 36 

tabularius 150, 280 
tactics 63-9, 91-2 
taxes {see also payments' and 'tribute') 133-4, 2 °i 

n. 140 
technicians 255—7 
territorial agreements 120 
territorial claims 53—6 
territorial terms 144—5 
tetrarchy 280 

tolerance (see 'religious tolerance') 
towers (see 'watch-towers') 
trade 19, 32, 145—6, 154-6, 195—209 
trade (local) 129 
trade (long distance) 163-4, : 99 
trade (maritime) 200 n. 136 
trade (Persian, intermediate) 112 
trade (places of) 129, 145—6 
trade (Roman) 112 

trade and security (link between) 244 
trade policy 195 
trade route(s) 153, 164, 195—6, 199, 202, 

traders (see also 'merchants') 196 

traffic of goods (see also 'goods, exchange 

of) 196, 200 
Transcaucasian peoples 189 
transfer of technology 261 
translators {see 'interpreters') 
transmission of information 221 
transport (of goods) 163,197 
trans-shipment (centre) 163—4, *99 
Trans-Tigritania 126—9, X 3 X > J 33 
tribute 39, 81, 98, no, 113-14, 119, 177, 194 
trilingual inscription (see 'Sapur Inscription') 
triumph 87, 162—3 
triumphal arch 86—8 
triumphal reliefs (see 'rock reliefs') 

vassal kings (see also 'client kings') 113, 152, 168 

177, 276, 281 
venue (of negotiations) 126, 143 n. 127 
visual representation 4, 79, 121—2, 135—6 
visual testimonies 66 

walls (see 'fortification') 
watch-towers 31, 101— 2, 107 n. 162 
West vs. East 1, 2, 70 
Western 'know-how' 23, 263 
Western influence (artistic) 256—8 
'White Huns' 36, 97 
Will of Ardaslr 211 

world domination 1, 13-14, 53, 60, 105 n. 147, 
106, 118, 130 

xvarna 234 
xvarrah (see xvarna) 

Zarathustrianism (see also 'Zoroastrianism') 

210 nn. 1 and 3, 281 
Zich 139—43, 139 n. no 
Zoroastrian 'state cult' 211-13 
Zoroastrian Persia 147, 151, 218, 230-1 
Zoroastrianism 106, 182, 187, 210—31, 281 
Zoroastrianism (kings patrons of) 24, 213—16 
Zoroastrians 137, 183